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IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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19 Apr 2017

Saudi Arabian cellco Mobily has claimed the country’s first successful trial of a LoRaWAN-based low power wide area (LPWA) IoT network, in collaboration with long-term technology partner Cisco Systems, testing smart building and asset tracking IoT applications. A company statement said: ‘IoT is one of the main pillars of Mobily’s strategy that will enable us as the leading service provider in digital transformation and play a major role in the 2030 vision of Saudi Arabia.’ It added: ’This successful trial confirms the joint commitment to introduce new technologies and innovations to the Saudi market … to support the growth and development of [the] national economy.’

Telecom Italia (TIM), via its B2B IT solutions division Olivetti, has claimed the launch of Italy’s first live NB-IoT network, initially to connect water meters in partnership with Huawei Technologies and water management agency SMAT. The first stage of the network has been launched in Turin, where TIM is also testing a wide range of 5G technologies. The metering project aims to measure and improve the efficiency of the country’s water networks, while TIM says NB-IoT also enables the connection of water infrastructure that was previously unreachable with other kinds of cellular technology. Olivetti and SMAT will collect performance data through the NB-IoT network to determine further operational steps in the project, which is expected to be expanded nationally. Olivetti’s IoT Marketing Manager Mario Polosa said: ‘Together with SMAT, we are continuing with the work we started long ago to allow companies in every sector to speed up their adoption of IoT. The new NB-IoT technology … will soon achieve national coverage, therefore allowing our customers to introduce IoT services to the market quickly.’ TIM is also aiming to use NB-IoT for various smart city applications, reducing the need for maintenance call-outs to connected sites. TIM and Huawei agreed in February 2016 to establish their NB-IoT lab in Turin, continuing a collaboration on NB-IoT technology that started in 2015.

New Zealand B2B-focused provider Kordia and IoT specialist partner Thinxtra have disclosed that their Sigfox-based LPWA IoT network has reached 88% population coverage, under a plan to reach 95% of New Zealanders in due course. Sigfox IoT coverage on the South Island has recently been extended to Ashburton, Oamaru and Timaru, with deployment ongoing in Queenstown. Kordia added that it aims to serve one million IoT connections in the next three years, whilst it is working with Thinxtra on solutions for a range of ecosystem partners in agriculture, asset tracking, service-on-demand, road infrastructure and natural resource use cases.

LPWA IoT/M2M solutions provider Actility has completed its Series D funding round, raising USD75 million to enhance its portfolio. Supported by the new funding, planned expansion will focus on enabling industrial IoT solutions in key verticals: logistics and supply chain; smart buildings; and energy & utilities. Bosch, Creadev and Inmarsat are among the new investors, alongside existing investors such as Idinvest, Bpifrance, Ginko Ventures, KPN, Orange Digital Ventures, Swisscom and Foxconn. A second closing later this month is planned due to demand from additional strategic investors. Actility claims that its ThingPark IoT platform currently powers ‘most national and large-scale LPWA rollouts worldwide’, whilst adding that ‘ThingPark has grown increasingly more industrial, supporting LoRaWAN, LTE-M and NB-IoT’.

MTS Belarus has demonstrated an NB-IoT test platform at the TIBO-2017 event in Minsk, developed in partnership with Huawei, with the aim of developing and launching new digital solutions and products. General Director of MTS Belarus Vladimir Karpovich said that IoT will ‘shape the future of today’s digital society’, and that following the launch of the NB-IoT ‘test zone’ the cellco is seeking new IoT partnerships.

IoT enabler Telit has opened an R&D centre in Bangalore, India, working on Wi-Fi technologies for battery-powered devices along with related intellectual property (IP) in embedded software, including network stacks and application reference designs. Telit recently gained around 60 software development, application and support engineers in Bangalore via the acquisition of US-based wireless connectivity services provider GainSpan.

In IoT security, Microsoft has presented a five-step approach for cities in a newly published white paper aimed at protecting connected infrastructure from cyber attacks, as cities around the world increasingly connect IoT devices across municipal infrastructure. The white paper (see link below) says: ‘As cities plan for resilience, they become keenly aware of how much resilience depends on the smooth functioning of ICT in an adaptable technology infrastructure.’

Finally, Dubai-headquartered satellite operator Thuraya and Switzerland-based space industry start-up ELSE have formed a strategic alliance to share expertise in technical, regulatory, sales and marketing fields to enable the expansion of their service platforms beyond satellite connectivity. Thuraya’s Chief Strategy Officer Jassem Nasser explained that its ‘FUTURA’ future plan encompasses three main pillars, one of which incorporates M2M/IoT applications, and the alliance with ELSE ‘serves as a building block for the development of this component of FUTURA’. The team behind ELSE has previously supported more than ten European Space Agency (ESA) missions and seven nanosatellite missions, and is currently building a network of low-earth-orbit (LEO) nanosatellites named ‘Astrocast’ to offer cost-effective IoT and M2M services to global enterprises, providing remote monitoring, geolocation services, predictive maintenance and intelligent data gathering for sectors such as retail, agriculture, automotive, utilities, maritime, oil/gas and others. The first satellites are scheduled for launch by 2018, with a total of 64 satellites expected to be in orbit by 2021.

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