M2M Monthly: a guide to recent machine-to-machine and IoT developments

12 Jan 2017

Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly develop Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) in Europe and Latin America with China’s Huawei Technologies. The pair have started NB-IoT trials, targeting commercial launches in Europe and Latin America during 2017, and are collaborating on the alignment of end-to-end NB-IoT solutions, interoperability, ecosystems, IoT platform evolution and joint marketing. The trial NB-IoT solution – based on 3GPP standards – is designed to meet Telefonica’s requirements for massive IoT services with low-power and wide-area (LPWA) coverage, underpinning flexible networking under various industry and use scenarios. Patrick Zhang, President, Huawei Marketing & Solutions, said: ‘Huawei’s end-to-end NB-IoT solution, including the IoT operating system (Lite OS), device chipset, network access solutions, and IoT platforms, enables Telefonica to unlock new business opportunities in areas such as smart metering, smart parking, logistics tracking and smart cities.’

In another NB-IoT collaboration, UK-based Vodafone Group, Nokia of Finland and London-registered Telit have deployed a ‘fully integrated NB-IoT system’ at Vodafone’s ‘Open Lab’ in Dusseldorf, Germany using Nokia’s radio access network (RAN)/Cloud Packet Core solutions and IoT technology from Telit, whilst the facilities have been made available to device manufacturers and applications developers to help expand the IoT ecosystem. Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone Group’s Head of Research & Development and Technology Strategy, and Chair of the GSMA NB-IoT Forum, said: ‘NB-IoT will be commercially available from early 2017 and, because it has strong support from across the telecoms industry, will be the technology used to connect millions more things to the Internet. We are very pleased to make the Vodafone Open Labs available to companies that want to exchange ideas and to develop and test connected products and services powered by NB-IoT.’ Following an initial showcase trial involving gas meter data transmissions, Roberto Loiola, head of Nokia’s global customer business team, said: ‘The trial with Telit showed how NB-IoT is perfectly suited to manage a network comprised of devices and sensors from multiple vendors.’

Telit has also been busy in the US, partnering chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies to supply IoT modules to mobile heavyweight Verizon Wireless for its nationwide deployment of LTE Category M1 (LTE-M1) services, which is planned by the end of Q1 2017. Supporting Verizon’s rollout, the ME910C1-NV LTE-M1 IoT module based on Qualcomm’s MDM9206 LTE modem is part of Telit’s well-established xE910 range, a simple swap for existing xE910 devices based on 2G, 3G or LTE, whilst supporting Verizon’s web-based IoT developer platform, ‘ThingSpace’. ‘There is an enormous sense of urgency in the IoT ecosystem to make LTE-M1 commercially available everywhere, particularly in North America,’ said Manish Watwani, Vice President Global Product Marketing, Telit.

In further US developments, a press release from cellco T-Mobile claims that it is simplifying M2M/IoT services with the launch of two new ‘straightforward, low-cost’ IoT Access packs with wireless data and a ‘free’ inclusive Sequans Cat1 IoT module. Doug Chartier, Senior VP, T-Mobile, stated that ‘carriers over-complicate the Internet of Things, and that leads to more hassle and cost for customers. The wireless industry needs simpler options for IoT to take off.’ T-Mobile highlights that its IoT Access packs give new and existing customers an all-in-one solution including modules and data.

Qualcomm has also teamed up with Sweden’s Ericsson to complete China’s first end-to-end data call using a new cellular IoT technology, eMTC/Cat-M1. The test was achieved in China Mobile’s research lab using Qualcomm’s MDM9206 modem and Ericsson’s RAN. eMTC/Cat-M1 was standardised in 3GPP Release 13 for LPWA applications, and is suited to use cases requiring higher mobility support including vehicle telematics and consumer wearables, achieving better performance than existing 4G technology in terminal cost, standby time and coverage. Whilst the first eMTC field trial was conducted by South Korea’s KT Corp and Nokia in January 2016, Ericsson indicated that a commercial eMTC/Cat-M1 software product is now available with support from the Ericsson Radio System.

Nokia, meanwhile, claimed the first 4G NB-IoT trials in Indonesia, conducted with network operator Telkomsel. Initial pilots focused on telemetry services for environmental monitoring, with sensors connected to an 1800MHz LTE network via NB-IoT. Sukardi Silalahi, Director of Networks, Telkomsel, said: ‘This trial shows how NB-IoT can be used to connect millions of sensors that support business productivity, quality of life and capable of facilitating the realisation of the Smart City in various cities in Indonesia.’

Elsewhere in Asia, SmarTone and Cisco Jasper have partnered to launch IoT services in Hong Kong, enabling businesses in all industries to leverage the SmarTone mobile network and the Cisco Jasper managed connectivity platform, Control Center. Ken Laversin, Worldwide Head of Sales, IoT Cloud, Cisco Jasper, said: ‘Today, more than 6,500 companies in over 100 countries use Cisco Jasper Control Center to automate the connectivity management of their IoT devices around the world.’ Across the Pacific, Cisco Jasper also announced a similar deal with Chilean telco Entel, adding the latter to its list of Control Center IoT connectivity management platform users to enable B2B customers ‘to rapidly transform their businesses with IoT services’. ‘Businesses throughout Chile are pursuing IoT to help reduce costs, introduce new services and drive new revenues,’ said Julian San Martin, VP Corporate Markets at Entel.

South Korea’s largest mobile network operator SK Telecom has earmarked a huge investment of around USD4.2 billion over the next three years for artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning and IoT, part of which it says will be channelled into local start-ups to develop the IoT ecosystem via an ‘IoT Open House’, alongside its own ventures with group companies SK Broadband and SK Planet focused on AI, autonomous vehicles and IoT, The Korean Times reported. SK deployed nationwide Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) IoT infrastructure in mid-2016, and indicated it was distributing some 100,000 LoRa-based IoT modules across the country in the immediate term, as it said the LoRa modules were five times cheaper than LTE-based equivalents, whilst according to the operator, the Korean IoT market will be worth some USD11.3 billion in 2020.

Not to be left out of the news, SK’s Korean mobile rival LG Uplus has announced plans to expand its IoT business in industrial sectors via a partnership with Verizon. Notably, LG Uplus claims that it currently has a 75% cellular IoT market share in South Korea, whilst its new partnership with the US operator is aimed at sharing its IoT expertise in exchange for Verizon’s B2B sector resources.

In the vehicular world, Ericsson, Orange Group of France and PSA Group have signed a partnership agreement to conduct 4G/5G technology pilots for automotive applications, focused on Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) architecture, under the banner ‘Towards 5G’. ‘Connected IoT services are a crucial way to enhance the user experience for our customers, who today demand unprecedented levels of comfort and convenience as well as personalised services in their vehicles,’ said Carla Gohin, Research, Innovation & Advanced Technologies VP, PSA Group. Elsewhere, ZTE is the latest big name to join the 5G Automotive Association, enabling the Chinese vendor to partner other tech providers, cellcos and car manufacturers in the connected vehicle space.

France-based SIGFOX and its Latin American partner WND have forged an agreement with Velocom – part of the Datco Group – to roll out a SIGFOX IoT network across Argentina. WND will partner Velocom to manage deployment, sell connectivity services and drive growth of the SIGFOX IoT ecosystem in the country, with target applications including agriculture, smart cities and security.

UK Channel Islands operator Jersey Telecom (JT) has partnered with local government-backed Digital Jersey to build Jersey’s first LoRaWAN network. JT says the LoRa network will allow for low cost, battery-operated devices in hard to reach places and envisages that Jersey will be the ideal place for companies to test out their products, whilst islanders will benefit from smart traffic and environmental applications.

Finally, oneM2M, the global standards partnership for M2M communications and IoT, has elected its leadership team for 2017, with representatives of Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, LG Electronics and Qualcomm among those taking roles. The new team will be tasked with continuing to drive the oneM2M standard forward towards ‘a truly interoperable IoT ecosystem through standardisation’. Notable achievements for oneM2M last year included the publication of Release 2, opening up the IoT ecosystem to more devices via features such as data exchange between devices that lack the IoT protocol; end-to-end secure information exchange between devices and servers, addressing security; and semantic interoperability, enabling meaningful data exchange.

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