UAE-based telecoms group Etisalat has announced the commercial launch of NB-IoT and LTE-M IoT technologies on its live network, claiming a first for the Middle East and North African region. The launch follows testing conducted with chipset and module manufacturers including Huawei, Qualcomm and Quectel. Saeed Al Zarouni, Senior Vice President for Mobile Networks at Etisalat, said: ‘Etisalat will continue to participate in the IoT ecosystem by fulfilling growing market demands, in particular our business and enterprise customers. In addition, we are focusing on investing and developing new technologies to work in line with the overall company objective to support the government in developing Smart Cities in the country.’ Etisalat is also deploying end-to-end IoT solutions and services for its customers in coordination with multiple network vendors and IoT device suppliers targeting a range of verticals and industries, particularly smart cities, health, transportation and education.
In Portugal, a five-company partnership has launched a pilot of NB-IoT-based smart electricity meter services over a 4G LTE network operated by Nos at Parque das Nacoes in Lisbon. The pilot, to be completed by the end of the year, also involves Huawei, JANZ CE, U-blox and EDP Distribuicao, under the UPGRID project of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme.
Filipino telco PLDT’s mobile unit Smart Communications and Ericsson are partnering to develop IoT solutions for conservation of mangroves in the Philippines; Smart has agreed to be Ericsson’s exclusive mobile network partner for the proposed ‘Connected Mangroves’ project, utilising/analysing data such as water level, humidity, soil moisture, temperature and other environmental factors.
Dutch standards organisation NEN is establishing an ‘IoT commission’ to represent the Netherlands in international forums, a move motivated by the increasing number of IoT standards being used in commercial and pilot/test systems. A meeting is scheduled for 8 September to discuss the commission’s formation. NEN says on its website that it manages over 31,000 standards, including international, European and national standards accepted in the Netherlands, with a total of over 800 standards committees active.
China’s ZTE has expanded its NB-IoT ‘Intelligent Energy Management System’ from the Chinese market to a global product, having been demoed at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai last month.
Finally, Ericsson has launched a new suite of network services aimed at ‘massive’ IoT connectivity, i.e. to enable service providers to efficiently address the deployment and operation of massive volumes of IoT devices. Based on LTE-M (Cat-M1) and NB-IoT technologies, these services include IoT network design and optimisation, deployment, operation and management, and are underpinned by Ericsson’s recently-expanded support services offering. Peter Laurin, head of business area managed services at Ericsson, said: ‘We anticipate IoT devices will surpass mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices as early as 2018 and, according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report, there will be 18 billion connected IoT devices in 2022. This massive uptake requires a different approach to network planning, design, operations and capabilities than traditional mobile broadband networks.’ Ericsson plans to deploy over 40 massive IoT networks in 30-plus countries (including the UAE, Iran and South Africa) by the end of 2017. The Ericsson network services and VoLTE for IoT software support in radio and core networks are commercially available now.
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