T-Mobile US has launched the country’s first ‘off-the-shelf’ NB-IoT service package. The Magenta-branded NB-IoT plan is initially priced at a promotional USD6 a year for 12MB of 64kbps data traffic per connected device. T-Mobile claimed to be the first in North America to launch NB-IoT technology last autumn and plans to expand the network nationwide by mid-year. T-Mobile also announced that it has certified new NB-IoT modules from u-blox and Sierra Wireless for use on its network. The cellco added that its NB-IoT connectivity service is ‘ideal for applications that require low bandwidth, long battery life and large numbers of sensors, like asset tracking, smart city applications, smart agriculture and more’. T-Mobile currently offers Cat-1 IoT Access Packs for applications that require more bandwidth and voice, and it also expects to launch Cat-M nationwide ‘shortly’.
Another US heavyweight Sprint has unveiled what it claims to be the first battery-powered, connected, secure payment card, in partnership with Dynamics, a unit of the cellco’s Japanese parent group SoftBank. The IoT-based ‘Wallet Card’ incorporates: a cellular chip/antenna to transfer data with banks ‘virtually anywhere in the world’, a battery and organic recharging chip, a card-programmable magnetic stripe, card-programmable EMV chip and card-programmable contactless chip, plus a 65,000 pixel display and user interface so that a cardholder can change between different cards and informational screens. As well as providing IoT technology for the venture, Sprint is the first network operator to support the Wallet Card.
In the US LoRaWAN segment, meanwhile, Kerlink has collaborated with Senet to expand the latter’s LoRa-based LPWA network in the Las Vegas area to support a variety of commercial product offerings, market trials and proofs of concept.
MTS Belarus has announced the commercial readiness of its NB-IoT network following testing. The operator’s 900MHz LTE-based dedicated IoT radio access network and cloud platform are available for developers and other partners to create new digital solutions and unique products for the Belarusian market, stated the cellco’s technical director Alexei Tyazhikh.
The volume of the Russian M2M/IoT market for services and solutions in 2017 exceeded RUB60 billion (USD1.05 billion) according to a report from J’son & Partners Consulting, which reckoned that Russia’s connected IoT/M2M devices reached 15.9 million by end-December, including all technology platforms – cellular, fixed and fixed-wireless. The report forecast that by 2022 the market volume will reach nearly RUB90 billion. The largest revenue earners in the M2M/IoT sector are network connectivity providers, led by nationwide fixed telco Rostelecom and the largest three cellular operators MTS, MegaFon and Beeline.
And finally, South Korea’s KT Corp has received government permission to test drive an autonomous bus on public roads, the Korea Times reported. KT’s self-driving 45-passenger bus has already completed several hours of journeys on roads including Gangnam Boulevard.
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