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IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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1 Mar 2018

Sri Lankan operator Dialog Axiata has launched what it calls ‘the first commercial Massive IoT network supporting both Cat-M1 and NB-IoT technologies in South Asia’, in partnership with Ericsson. Deployed across Dialog’s entire mobile network, Cat-M1/NB-IoT technology is aimed at accelerating the proliferation of IoT devices and developing the IoT ecosystem in Sri Lanka by offering superior coverage, long battery life and cost-effective solutions to enterprises. Pradeep De Almeida, Dialog’s CTO, said: ‘With this launch, we are seeking to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies by enterprises and help them create exciting new products and services for consumers. The Cat-M1/NB-IoT network will amplify opportunity for solutions such as smart metering for utilities, smart parking, smart bins, smart environmental sensors for smart cities, logistic solutions as well as other applications in agriculture and farming.’

Also partnering Ericsson, Singapore’s Singtel has announced the commercial availability of its nationwide cellular IoT network supporting both Cat-M1 and NB-IoT devices. A press release adds: ‘Singtel’s IoT network allows businesses to benefit from applications with low power consumption that help prolong the devices’ battery life and provide deeper wireless coverage and multiple connections. Singtel will also harness its cyber security expertise to support enterprises in implementing secure and reliable IoT solutions.’ Although Singtel is claiming a nationwide ‘first’ with the launch, note that rival Singaporean cellco M1 launched its NB-IoT network in August 2017 – referred to as nationwide by local telecoms regulator Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Ericsson has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kuwait-based Zain Group to jointly develop and test selected 5G and IoT use cases, aiming to accelerate digitalisation in the Middle East region by ‘enabling rapid deployment of innovative services in the Internet of Things in the coming years’. The agreement covers technical demonstrations and strengthens technical cooperation between the two companies to support smooth 4G to 5G evolution across Zain Group’s networks.

Yet another Ericsson partnership was announced this week, with Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) to establish a joint R&D centre for 5G and IoT in hi-tech new-build city Innopolis (Republic of Tatarstan). The centre will open in Q2 2018, initially focusing on Smart City solutions.

Vodafone Group and Samsung have formed an exclusive partnership in selected European markets to develop and launch a range of consumer IoT Smart Home products and services this year, beginning with Germany and Spain in the second quarter. The ‘V-Home by Vodafone’ suite is based on Samsung’s ‘SmartThings’ open platform and the ‘V by Vodafone’ consumer IoT system (launched in November 2017) to offer consumers ‘simple but powerful home automation, security and safety products and services’, using connected devices such as security cameras, smoke detectors, water leak sensors, smart lighting and smart heating. By 2020 there will be more than 290 million consumer smart home devices in the countries in which Vodafone operates, up from around 45 million today, the operator’s press release added.

Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom has joined the ‘Move – IoT Connect’ platform operated by India’s Tata Communications to provide local and global connectivity for industrial IoT and consumer electronics devices.

Affirmed Networks, specialist in virtualised mobile networks, announced that Japan’s SoftBank has selected the Affirmed Mobile Content Cloud (MCC) to deliver IoT services and mobile connectivity to enterprise customers. A release added that Softbank has selected Affirmed Networks’ Virtualised EPC solution due to its flexibility, while its support for 5G is critical to delivering the diverse requirements of IoT services. Sadahiro Sato, Senior Vice President, SoftBank, said: ‘The proliferation of connected devices and the industry’s shift to virtualised networks creates a real opportunity for us to efficiently deliver IoT and M2M services to our enterprise customers … over a common network infrastructure.’

German B2B MVNO 1NCE, in partnership with its network host Deutsche Telekom, has introduced a ‘lifetime fee’ flat-rate data subscription model for IoT/M2M devices. In an offer valid across all EU countries plus Switzerland and Norway, EUR10 (USD12.2) buys a 500MB allowance for a ten-year service life of one smart device. 1NCE CEO Alexander Sator said: ‘With this tariff, we will make it as easy as possible for our customers to quickly implement new IoT solutions. That means no monthly bills, no additional fees … Deutsche Telekom as a pioneer in NB-IoT is effectively pushing ahead with the expansion of the network. We hope that this close cooperation will accelerate growth in the European IoT market.’ 1NCE calls itself ‘the first dedicated Tier 1, Narrowband IoT MVNO providing fast, secure and reliable IoT network connectivity for low data B2B applications’. 1NCE notes that it also provides 2G and 3G connectivity, alongside NB-IoT access.

Altice Portugal has signed an MoU with Cisco on IoT development. The first project developed under the agreement – a Water Telemetry proof-of-concept – utilised the capabilities of the Cisco Ultra Services Platform, a fully virtualised, 5G-ready mobile services core supporting IoT network protocols including NB-IoT. The platform also includes the eSCEF module which ‘exposes network capabilities and resources to vertical applications and IoT Platforms with integrated API management’.

Cisco also announced a Joint Purpose Agreement (JPA) with Norway’s Telenor to collaborate on data analysis, IoT, Smart City and security solutions. Ruza Sabanovic, CTO at Telenor Group, said: ‘Digitisation of societies requires new ways of working and new partnerships. We’re excited about taking our collaboration with Cisco to the next level, setting up a joint lab environment to explore Smart City solutions with one of Norway’s largest municipalities.’ Leveraging its existing city Wi-Fi, WAN and mobile connectivity, Telenor will utilise the Cisco Kinetic data platform to extract, compute and move data from connected things to various applications, exploring potential business benefits.

In another Cisco announcement, the Cisco Jasper Control Center for NB-IoT is now available worldwide, staking the claim to be ‘the first commercially available global NB-IoT platform’. Used in conjunction with the Cisco Jasper Control Center IoT connectivity management platform, enterprises will be able to manage both NB-IoT and cellular devices. China Unicom implemented early trials of Control Center for NB-IoT, reporting ‘great adoption from businesses across industries including smart metering, parking, fire control and street lighting’. Xiaotian Chen, General Manager of China Unicom IoT Business Unit, said: ‘The demand for low cost, low power connectivity is extremely high throughout China, and we expect to have over 100 million NB-IoT connections on our network by 2020. By embracing multiple technologies for both traditional and low power devices, we give our customers – regardless of their industry – the flexibility to choose what fits their specific business needs.’

Aricent has pre-integrated NB-IoT functionality into its ‘one-stop-shop’ LTE software framework, claiming an industry first, and noting that ‘OEM customers no longer need to manage multiple vendors to build a complete 4G solution’. The Aricent LTE software framework is described as ‘a complete LTE solution comprising eNodeB and Evolved Packet Core (EPC), pre-integrated for L1, L2, and L3 for 4G customers providing significant time-to-market and cost advantages …. [which] now offers advanced features including NB-IoT, eMTC, LWA, LAA, eMBMS and more’. Liang Jianhua, president of China’s Guangdong Super Telecom Co, welcomed the development, saying: ‘NB-IoT is our key thrust area in China and we are excited to work with Aricent on this project as the technology continues to evolve. Aricent’s pre-integrated solution for NB-IoT with end-to-end services and holistic support helps us work on the complete solution with a single partner.’

And finally, LoRa gets a look-in, as Orange France, KPN of the Netherlands and IoT connectivity platform supplier Actility have claimed a ‘first’ with their successful field test of seamless international roaming between nationwide public IoT networks, by implementing the latest LoRa Alliance specifications. The companies noted that the implementation of true seamless roaming protocols in the field opens up the possibility of connecting sensors or trackers that move between countries, and simplifies the implementation of international business applications – by removing the need to both integrate several IoT platforms and contract with multiple LoRaWAN operators – thereby reducing time to market for customers.

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