IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

21 Jun 2018

TIM Brasil is launching an NB-IoT pilot network in Santa Rita do Sapucai, using the 700MHz band, ahead of a commercial rollout expected to begin later this year, Teletime reports. The operator’s plan is to deploy NB-IoT in more than 1,000 Brazilian cities where it already has a 700MHz LTE network presence by end-2018, in partnership with Ericsson. High priority target segments include agribusiness and smart cities, plus retail sector applications (e.g. connected POS machines) among others. In the future the cellco says other frequency bands will be considered for NB-IoT usage including 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz.

AT&T has confirmed a plan to launch NB-IoT across the US in early 2019 and across Mexico later that year, augmenting its US/Mexican LTE-M networks which it launched last year, and giving customers a greater range of low power wide area (LPWA) device connectivity support. Chris Penrose, head of IoT Solutions at AT&T, said: ‘We’ve seen global momentum for LPWA since launching our North American LTE-M network last year. Adding NB-IoT to our portfolio will expand our LPWA capabilities, help drive investment in our evolution to 5G and support our customers as they deploy IoT solutions across the US and Mexico.’

Vodafone Italy has revealed that its NB-IoT network will provide nationwide service coverage by September this year. Vodafone began its NB-IoT rollout in central/southern cities last autumn before expanding to northern areas in early 2018.

Russian cellco MegaFon has demonstrated NB-IoT-based housing and communal service applications in hi-tech city Innopolis in the Republic of Tatarstan, utilising its licensed 900MHz spectrum band, in cooperation with Huawei. Demo/pilot services include smart water meters, whilst the company says that a single NB-IoT-equipped base station can serve up to around 11,000 smart meter users, and one client module can run for up to ten years on a single battery.

Asian mobile operator alliance Conexus has announced the commercial readiness of NB-IoT roaming between the networks of 3 Hong Kong and Taiwan’s Far EasTone. IoT roaming is among the current key initiatives for the regional alliance.

The UK’s Things Connected initiative has partnered with Netherlands-backed The Things Network (TTN) to create ‘Britain’s largest free-to-use LoRaWAN network and innovation community’. An announcement said that UK entrepreneurs will now be able to develop and build IoT solutions on a network with over 400 base stations across the country, combining the existing Things Connected regions (London, North-East and Northern Ireland) and the 63 local TTN communities with over 700 members and 300 base stations. Things Connected was established in 2016 by Digital Catapult to accelerate the adoption of LPWA networking technologies. As well as deploying LoRA solutions in the UK, companies will also be able to demonstrate their services globally via TTN nodes available across six continents.

Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation & Communications (MCTIC) and the National Bank for Economic & Social Development (BNDES) have issued an open invitation for developers and entrepreneurs to submit IoT project proposals for testing on experimental platforms and in real-world environments, with an end-August submission deadline.

Japan’s KDDI (au) will supply global eSIM cards for Toyota connected cars from 2019, enabling worldwide mobile cross-border network connectivity, reports Nikkei Asian Review. Toyota intends to equip the lion’s share of cars sold in Japan and the US with communications functions as standard by 2020. The manufacturer currently sells around four million vehicles in the two countries annually. As well as providing drivers with communications facilities, eSIMs allow Toyota to gather cross-border data such as information about the locations of cars, their travel distances and their failure data, which it can use to improve its product quality management among other purposes. In Japan, KDDI is already supplying communications functions for certain Toyota models, including its premium Lexus range.

Lastly, US operator Sprint is partnering NXM Labs in launching a connected car platform this autumn incorporating on-demand unlimited passenger Wi-Fi/LTE broadband access with advanced vehicle status/performance monitoring and safety features, with a blockchain-powered IoT security system for preventing hacking attacks. Sprint says the platform is ‘5G-ready’, as it gears up for the introduction of 5G network services in H1 2019. Other features include: smart parental controls, anti-theft, roadside assistance, collision detection, and apps for finding parking spaces or the cheapest petrol, whilst multiple family vehicles can connect with each other.

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