IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

9 Aug 2017

Singapore’s third largest cellco M1 has launched what it claims to be the first commercial NB-IoT network in Southeast Asia, offering low power wide area (LPWA) IoT device connectivity across the city-state. M1’s CEO Karen Kooi announced: ‘The Internet of Things will open up an incredible array of fresh opportunities and innovation. We look forward to working closely with government agencies, technology partners, and customers to enable smart solutions for everything and everyone.’ Head of local telecoms regulator Info-communications Media Development Authority, Tan Kiat How, stated: ‘We are heartened that M1 has rolled out their narrowband IoT network on a nationwide basis and partnered enterprises to bring ready solutions to market and accelerate innovation to empower possibilities. We encourage companies to embrace the exciting benefits of NB-IoT as we move towards the digital future.’

The M1 launch news effectively trumped an announcement earlier in the week from larger Singaporean carrier Singtel, which revealed that it will introduce nationwide commercial NB-IoT services by the end of September. Singtel is aiming to gain a device compatibility advantage over M1, however, as its new IoT network will also support another LPWA licensed spectrum-based technology, Cat-M1 (LTE-M), which it says will also eventually support voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls via various devices. Singtel highlighted that it will also harness its cyber security expertise to support businesses in implementing secure and reliable end-to-end IoT solutions, aiming to advance Singapore towards becoming a ‘Smart Nation’. Singtel is meanwhile inviting business and technology partners to join its IoT Innovation Lab (a joint venture with Ericsson) to develop new applications and enrich the IoT ecosystem.

Hong Kong is set to gain its first commercial LoRaWAN-based LPWA IoT network via a partnership of Pixel Networks and Actility. The pair are deploying a network utilising Semtech LoRaWAN gateway technology and Actility’s ThingPark IoT platform, combined with Cisco IoT solutions. Pixel is providing network infrastructure and IoT components including sensors, analytics and visualisation software plus system support, integration and maintenance. Pixel is also enabling virtual private LoRaWAN networks utilising both public network infrastructure and customers’ own outdoor and indoor gateways. Pixel CEO Kirill Nosov said: ‘Hong Kong is a highly competitive and cutting edge city, and at the same time an open and thriving market always on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency in day to day operations. We think that makes Hong Kong a very good fit with our core business of providing fully integrated hardware and software solutions, ready to use on day one.’ Initial applications deployed over the LoRaWAN network will include in-building systems (e.g. smart lighting, temperature/environment monitoring, smart building maintenance) and smart automotive functions such as parking and electric car charging management.

Actility’s ThingPark China division, meanwhile, has teamed up with Xi’an Beilin District Science and Technology Bureau and Shaanxi Radio & Television Network Group to launch a LoRaWAN IoT network on the ‘New Silk Road’, an initiative forming part of China’s USD100 billion ‘Belt and Road programme’ aiming to create a modern day Silk Road to stimulate trade, connectivity and cooperation across Asia. A test LPWA IoT network covering the Beilin district of Xi’an (the eastern starting point of the ancient Silk Road) will enable applications including environmental monitoring aimed at high tech enterprises. ThingPark China CEO Bing Liu said: ‘We’re excited to launch such a pivotal project, which is set to bring unprecedented socio-economic benefits to Xi’an, and fuel the advancement of the Belt and Road initiative. IoT will play an integral role in building the Silk Road into a modern day transport corridor.’ Actility CEO Mike Mulica added: ‘This network in Xi’an is the first step towards a global-scale cargo tracking and monitoring solution, which will make the New Silk Road the standard-bearer of the coming revolution in world-wide trade, powered by the IoT.’

In the US, satellite communications operator Iridium has claimed that the IoT/5G rollout plans of Ligado (formerly Lightsquared) will create significant spectrum interference problems. In a filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) quoted by FierceWireless, Iridium stated that it ‘objects to Ligado’s proposal because of the potential for significant harmful interference to Iridium’s operations in violation of the FCC’s rules if Ligado is permitted to deploy a terrestrial service in the adjacent frequency band as currently proposed.’ Ligado aims to use a nationwide ‘L-band’ 1525MHz-1559MHz spectrum block to combine a new terrestrial network with its existing satellite-based infrastructure to support 5G/IoT services, and refutes Iridium’s complaint concerning interference, arguing that evidence shows its proposed rollout will not impact Iridium’s business. In a statement given to FierceWireless, Ligado said it was ‘certain that the Commission will make a decision that is based on facts, science and the public interest rather than on rhetoric.’

Russian cellco MegaFon and Qualcomm have carried out NB-IoT testing over 900MHz network equipment provided by Huawei at MegaFon’s R&D centre in St Petersburg, using Qualcomm’s MDM9206 modem as an end-user terminal. The NB-IoT test project also entailed coverage enhancement measures, as MegaFon gears up for mass connection of IoT devices over its commercial network.

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