French giant Orange Group has set a target of national coverage of France with LoRaWAN IoT network technology by the end of this year, as it also announced plans for LoRa Alliance standardised international roaming. Orange’s LoRa network currently covers nearly 4,000 towns and industrial sites ‘with quality connectivity inside buildings and below ground’, whilst the company is preparing to test LoRa interconnection with ‘another European operator’ by December, its press release states. So far, more than 100 enterprise customers have chosen LoRaWAN connectivity with the ‘Datavenue’ offer from Orange Business Services, in various business sectors, intelligent communities, smart homes, health, industry and agriculture, for uses ‘as varied as smart buildings, connected parking garages, patient home monitoring, the supply chain and geolocation’. In tandem, Orange is continuing its plans to expand LTE-M IoT network coverage this year to support a wider range of IoT devices. Recall that at the end of February the group disclosed it was beginning its LTE-M rollout in Belgium and Spain ahead of planned expansion across the rest of its European footprint, as it aims to meet demand for migrating its large existing SIM-based M2M subscription base from 2G/3G to 4G technology.
Focusing on a ‘rival’ IoT standard, Telefonica Chile and Huawei are launching an NB-IoT Open Lab for working with partners in the telco’s R&D centre on the development of NB-IoT-based products and applications. Set to open ‘in the next few months,’ the lab aims to boost the IoT business ecosystem and drive innovation in the IoT space, by enabling equipment vendors, service providers, end-user OEM device makers and application developers to deploy their services and applications over Telefonica’s networks faster. Recall that Telefonica (Movistar) and Huawei jointly deployed the first field NB-IoT smart metering service in Chile during 2016.
In a similar vein, T-Mobile Netherlands has established an NB-IoT ‘hub’ in Den Bosch, located at the De Gruyter factory, housing around 185 small businesses, where T-Mobile’s network supports NB-IoT demonstrations, workshops and development programmes. The Den Bosch hub follows a previous NB-IoT hub launch by T-Mobile in Amsterdam (at ‘the Chateau’).
Staying with the Netherlands, a motion has been submitted to the Dutch Lower House of Parliament demanding that the government implement effective measures to combat unsecure IoT equipment/devices, in particular addressing the threat of cyber attacks including ransomware. In March a Lower House computer system was infected with ransomware, whilst May’s global ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack brought such issues further into focus.
Malaysia’s DiGi Telecommunications has launched its IoT ‘Connected Vehicles’ strategy, initially offering its ‘iFleet’ B2B real-time intelligent fleet management platform targeted at commercial vehicles. Digi also plans to introduce a B2C connected vehicle service in the second half of this year, to offer private vehicle owners a service that encompasses tracking, driver safety, vehicle security and smart in-vehicle services.
Elsewhere in the automotive world, Russia’s MegaFon and Nokia have developed new M2M/cloud solutions for connected vehicles in the rental car sector, TDaily reports. ‘Key-less’ operations mean the customer fills out an electronic rental contract via a mobile application and receives a digital car key on their smartphone; various functions in the car – including seat/wheel/etc settings, information/entertainment systems and data/voice communications – can all be configured/personalised by the customer upon entering the vehicle, or remotely in advance.
Telekom Romania has launched a Smart City project in Constanta, piloting solutions including smart parking, smart street lighting and environmental monitoring. A similar project was launched by the operator in Bucharest in late-2016, whilst a third pilot of this type will begin next year in Alba Iulia, Telekom disclosed.
Also in eastern Europe, T-Mobile Czech Republic has announced the launch of its new IoT web portal ‘TEO’ (mujteo.cz), which features examples of IoT solutions/applications currently deployed by the cellco’s customers on its networks, across various business sectors and usage cases.
Finally, in agriculture, Australia’s National Narrowband Network (NNN) and Discovery-AG Weather & Water Network (DAWWN) have jointly launched the ‘Connected Country’ project, to build and operate a nationwide rural LoRaWAN network for providing IoT services to farmers. The infrastructure will support shared networks of low-cost wireless sensors reporting on essential farm metrics such as soil moisture, rainfall, crop health, water levels and livestock data. The network is initially being switched on across one million acres in New South Wales, and within 18 months the partners expect to have extensive coverage of Australia’s farming regions, having begun working with Cisco and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries to accelerate the rollout.
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