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IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly update

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26 Apr 2017

US cable giant Comcast has stepped up its support for the LoRaWAN low power wide area (LPWA) IoT networking standard, having become a LoRa Alliance sponsor member, taking a seat on the organisation’s board (alongside Semtech, IBM, Cisco and Orange Group), and hosting a LoRa Alliance event in Philadelphia scheduled for June. Back in October 2016 Comcast unveiled machineQ, a trial IoT venture based on LoRaWAN in Philadelphia and San Francisco, working with commercial partners gathering, transmitting and analysing data from connected devices distributed throughout their organisations, initially focusing on use cases including asset tracking, utility metering and environmental monitoring. Alex Khorram, general manager of machineQ, announced this week: ‘As we continue to deploy the LoRaWAN protocol in the United States, the core technology is exceeding our expectations in terms of network propagation and coverage. We are seeing increasing demand and interest from a diverse client set. It’s exciting to commence our formal membership with the Alliance by bringing its respected global membership to the city of Philadelphia. We believe there is significant value in driving international collaboration and growth opportunities for LoRaWAN technology.’

IoT infrastructure provider Thinxtra has extended its Sigfox-based network footprint into Hong Kong, having previously rolled out similar networks in Australia and New Zealand. As reported by TelecomAsia, Thinxtra’s Hong Kong network will launch commercially later this year, with connectivity to other Sigfox LPWA networks in around 32 countries worldwide (a number expected to reach 60 by end-2018). Murray Hankinson, managing director of Thinxtra Asia, said: ‘We chose Hong Kong because it’s Mainland China’s gateway and can deliver scale production of IoT devices, which could be made available around the world on the Sigfox technology.’ The MD noted that asset tracking (tracking temperature, humidity or velocity), meters (water, gas or electricity) and smart building monitoring (air quality or smoke alarms) are likely to be the top three IoT applications in Hong Kong, whilst adding that he believes Sigfox can operate and coexist with the ‘rival’ NB-IoT standard.

South Korean integrated network operator KT Corp has collaborated with Samsung to launch a two-month pilot IoT service based on NB-IoT technology in metropolitan areas of the capital, Seoul. Initial pilot use cases include location tracking. Samsung provided NB-IoT technology for deployment at KT’s existing LTE cell sites alongside a virtualised Cellular IoT core solution. The partners aim to extend NB-IoT service models and coverage in the near future.

In Malaysia, edotco, a unit of Axiata, has teamed up with Atilze Digital, a division of Yen Global, to launch a LoRaWAN network, initially covering the Klang Valley region with 25 LoRa gateways at edotco’s tower sites. Enterprises are being offered access to ready-made IoT applications for Smart City, Smart Building, Smart Home, Smart Agriculture and other services via the new LoRa network. Axiata and Atilze signed an agreement in September 2016 to develop IoT opportunities in countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Microsoft has ramped up its IoT software range, publicly previewing Azure Time Series Insights, a ‘fully managed analytics, storage, and visualisation service’ aimed at giving enterprises ‘a near real time global view’ of data across various event sources to ‘quickly validate IoT solutions and avoid costly downtime of mission-critical devices’. Microsoft claims that Azure Time Series Insights will allow users to ‘discover hidden trends, spot anomalies, conduct root-cause analysis in near real-time, all without writing a single line of code’ via a ‘simple and intuitive’ interface. Customers from industry sectors including automotive, windfarms, elevator operation, smart buildings and manufacturing have been using Time Series Insights during its private preview. Time Series Insights is also used to power analytics in Microsoft’s new IoT Central software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, which is aimed at medium-sized enterprises lacking the level of in-house IoT expertise required for running projects using Microsoft’s existing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution, Azure IoT Suite, for instance. Microsoft says that IoT Central will ‘take the complexity out of the Internet of Things with a true, end-to-end IoT SaaS solution in the cloud that helps you build, use, and maintain smart products’.

Addressing IoT security issues, The Linux Foundation (see link) and an alliance of 50 companies have formed The EdgeX Foundry to build a common open framework for IoT edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components under a new open-source consortium. ZDNet reports that the initiative’s goal is ‘the simplification and standardisation of Industrial IoT edge computing, while still allowing room for vendors to add their own value-add features’. Philip DesAutels, The Linux Foundation’s Senior Director of IoT, explained: ‘Businesses currently have to invest a lot of time and energy into developing their own edge computing solutions, before they can even deploy IoT solutions to address business challenges. EdgeX will foster an ecosystem of interoperable components from a variety of vendors, so that resources can be spent on driving business value instead of combining and integrating IoT components.’ With high-profile member Dell providing ‘base’ source code to the project, EdgeX’s founding members also include: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Bayshore Networks, Canonical, Linaro, NetFoundry and VMware. Industry affiliate members include: Cloud Foundry Foundation, EnOcean Alliance, Mainflux, Object Management Group, Project Haystack and ULE Alliance.

Indian government-owned Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) has developed a common service platform for M2M communication, which is compliant with international oneM2M standards, reports The C-DOT Common Service Platform (CCSP) can be deployed on off-the-shelf generic server platforms or cloud infrastructure. Business application providers can deploy their oneM2M compliant applications in either co-located infrastructure or on any public or private cloud. C-DOT has also developed various indigenously designed hardware nodes compliant with oneM2M. In addition, C-DOT has developed various applications like Smart Living, Smart Street Light, Carbon Footprint Monitoring Application and Power Monitoring which are fully oneM2M compliant. A release adds: ‘As the Indian government pushes forward with its Smart Cities Mission, IoT will play a crucial role in developing smart infrastructure, such as electricity and water supply and public transport. Standardisation is required in order to deliver cost-effective IoT/M2M solutions. The adoption of suitable standards will ensure interoperability and that solution developers devote their energies to the actual building of product and on innovations, rather than reinventing the wheel.’

Lastly, Cisco Jasper has introduced its Control Center for Mobile Enterprise, an extension of its existing IoT platform which ‘enables enterprises to automate the connectivity and management of corporate mobile devices in addition to IoT devices’. An early adopter of the new platform is Canadian network operator Telus which is already offering the platform to its business customers as part of its new business mobility solution, ‘TELUS IQ Smart Mobility Management’.

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