Midweek M2M: IoT and machine-to-machine developments

8 Mar 2017

Ooredoo has announced the expansion of its Managed Connectivity Platform to its domestic market of Qatar, having previously offered the platform in Indonesia, Tunisia and Kuwait, and says that it is increasingly working with multinational companies looking to apply global IoT solutions in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. CEO Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani said: ‘Ooredoo sees significant opportunities for working with device manufacturers and IoT solution providers across our footprint.’ The Qatari firm highlights one of its key Managed Connectivity solutions – ‘IoT Connect’ – which provides a comprehensive ‘control panel’ for managing IoT connectivity combined with a range of speciality IoT SIM cards/chips. To further its global IoT ambitions, Ooredoo Group this week also chose Telia Carrier to provide IoT backhaul connectivity to Ericsson’s Device Connectivity Platform in Europe, using the Swedish wholesale network provider’s dedicated IoT backbone. The Qatari government, meanwhile, has launched the Qatar Smart Programme alongside other ambitious digital economy initiatives, which it says collectively should generate revenue of up to QAR40 billion (USD11 billion) in the country over the next five years, as well as accelerate the growth of job opportunities in the ICT sector by 10% per annum.

Brazil’s government is also focusing on the advanced digital economy, and the country’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Information and Communications has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the European Alliance for Internet of Things for the exchange of IoT information and experiences, in an agreement also involving the Brazilian Association of the Internet of Things. Meanwhile, the same Brazilian ministry announced that it has taken the first steps towards the creation of an IoT network for public safety, in partnership with Ericsson. A letter of intent was signed by Minister Gilberto Kassab and the president of Ericsson Brasil, Sergio Quiroga, at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona; the pact foresees the participation of companies, start-ups, operators and universities in an IoT development centre in Sao Paulo. Furthermore, Minister Kassab launched the first of five public consultations that will be carried out for Brazil’s National Internet of Things Plan: the government aims to attract contributions from international researchers, companies and developers, and is preparing to launch the national plan this September, following the conclusion of a study on IoT in partnership with the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES).

Russian-backed cellco MTS Belarus and Huawei agreed to expand cooperation in IoT and cloud technologies during MWC, Belarusian publication BelTA (eng.belta.by) learned from the mobile operator’s general director Vladimir Karpovich, who said that Huawei is a strategic partner and that talks at the event were essential in terms of outlining the prospects for further development, clarifying: ‘We have agreed on the new avenues of further cooperation that are based on cloud technologies and the Internet of Things concept.’

Nokia and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) have signed a MoU to collaborate on the development of 5G and IoT use cases. Under the deal, Nokia and STC will develop 5G and IoT applications that will use STC’s network, through advanced trials of 4.5G LTE-A Pro and ‘4.9G’ technologies.

Nokia has signed a similar collaboration expansion pact with India’s Bharti Airtel to develop 5G/IoT applications and the management of connected devices. Airtel’s director of network services (India and South Asia), Abhay Savargaonkar, said: ‘5G and IoT applications have tremendous potential … This will allow operators to support … potentially billions of connected IoT devices and lay the foundation for smarter cities and rural communities, connected vehicles, industrial automation and remote healthcare.’

Cisco Jasper has completed live trials of NB-IoT on its Control Center connectivity management platform, in response to demand from an increasing number of companies looking for low cost, low power IoT devices to optimise their businesses and deliver new services, parent Cisco disclosed. Globally, Cisco Jasper partners with 50 service providers, managing IoT devices across 550 mobile operator networks, many of which have already committed to NB-IoT.

In a complementary move, Huawei released its NB-IoT Ecosystem Partner List at MWC — a document containing information about industry applications for NB-IoT — and revealed its plans to build 30 commercial NB-IoT networks in 20 countries worldwide by the end of this year, having already performed NB-IoT tests with 18 operators. Huawei’s partner list compiles a range of market-ready solutions for NB-IoT developed by more than 40 partners spanning 20-plus industries, developed under the Chinese firm’s NB-IoT Open Lab initiative. Smart water/gas/electricity meters, streetlights and parking sensors were some of the solutions to pass the Open Lab tests.

Fellow Chinese tech giant ZTE has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Intel to jointly establish a lab for research and development of future key IoT technologies, including experimental verification and evaluation; ZTE and Intel have previously cooperated in fields such as IoT access technologies and platforms, open source collaboration, and solution integration.

Japan’s NTT Data has established a division called ‘AI & IoT Business Section’ consisting of an expert team of 200 data analysts, data scientists and consultants, as well as 1,500 developers of embedded technologies, aiming to leverage large-scale transaction processing, edge-side embedded software development technology for vehicle-installed devices and mobile devices, AI technology, and analytics that NTT Data has developed over the years.

In the consumer IoT space, Singapore’s Singtel and Ericsson used MWC to demonstrate their jointly-developed Assured+ integrated IoT platform, aiming to co-create a shared IoT ecosystem for operators, networks and devices, supporting IoT applications including elder care, connected cars and other applications focused on providing connected life management for consumers. CEO of Singtel’s Singapore consumer division, Yuen Kuan Moon, said: ‘In order to realise the full potential of IoT and offer our customers the best user experience, we need to ensure collaboration between people, devices and networks … Singtel believes an open ecosystem and the Assured+ solution will enable us to achieve these aims. By integrating standalone applications into one solution, Assured+ will bring convenience to our customers and also pave the way for more IoT solutions, such as smart home, to be launched in a seamless manner.’

Heading out on the roads, AT&T has signed a long-term connected car agreement with the Bridge Alliance, a partnership of 34 mobile network operators in Asia, the Middle East and Africa (representing over 800 million customers). AT&T already connects roughly twelve million vehicles in the US and abroad, and said the agreement will help it to extend the geographic coverage it provides to automotive manufacturers looking to enhance their infotainment offerings in the growth markets served by the Alliance members. Telefonica has also announced a major connected automotive deal this week, to deliver 4G connectivity to General Motors Mexico, with the aim of expanding connectivity services offered through OnStar.

Following an increasing trend of cellcos beginning to publicly report their volumes of M2M/IoT subscriptions/connections/SIMs, Indonesian operator XL Axiata says that its number of IoT connections rose by 3% quarter-on-quarter to reach 395,000 at the end of December 2016.

Elsewhere in regional IoT statistics, Telia Company’s 2017 Connected Things report claims that there are already nearly three connected devices per person in the Nordic region, with device numbers expected to double by 2021. The report also forecasts that the Nordic IoT market should more-than double from its current approximate value of EUR7.0 billion (USD7.4 billion) to EUR17.0 billion in 2021, whilst IoT market value in the Baltics will triple from EUR740 million to EUR2.2 billion.

Finally, in the farming sector, an IoT ‘bovine wearable’ named Moocall has been hailed as a success. The tail-fitted device enables farmers to remotely manage and monitor pregnant cows via Vodafone’s global IoT platform, with the British mobile giant claiming that around 150,000 calves in the UK and Ireland have so far been born safely using Moocall’s ‘non-invasive’ sensor – an improvement on an earlier design which needed inserting into the cow. The battery-powered device senses when cows are ready to calve by measuring tail movements triggered by labour contractions, and sends an alert over the mobile network.

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