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IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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23 Aug 2018

Thai cellco AIS has confirmed that it now offers nationwide, commercial-ready IoT networks based on both NB-IoT and LTE-M, the sole operator in Thailand to achieve this status, as accredited by mobile industry association GSMA. AIS said in a press release that its LTE-M (also known as eMTC [enhanced Machine-Type Communication]) network is now ‘ready for service (live)’ countrywide, alongside its NB-IoT network which was launched in Q2 2017 and offers ‘full-scaled commercial services with nationwide coverage’. AIS is using the 1800MHz band for LTE-M (suitable for mobile devices such as connected cars and tracking, voice/data connections, and any IoT devices requiring larger data volume than is supported by NB-IoT), whilst its 900MHz NB-IoT network supports up to 100,000 IoT devices per base station with a longer operating range (exceeding 10km) and stronger in-building signal. Both LTE-M and NB-IoT have lower power consumption compared to legacy cellular M2M communications. AIS’ current IoT partners include private and public organisations, R&D departments and universities (such as PTT, Property Perfect, Krotron Group and Thammasat University), whilst the cellco aims to develop new solutions in segments including consumer applications, industrial IoT and 5G Smart Cities.

China Telecom reported that its IoT revenues in the first half of 2018 grew by 86% year-on-year, noting a subscription ‘scale breakthrough’ in IoT segments including connected vehicles, smart surveillance, public services, bike-sharing and other markets. The company added a net 29.9 million new IoT connected devices in H1 2018, appearing likely to exceed its 60 million net addition target for the year. Total IoT devices on its network at end-June 2018 reached 74.2 million. China Telecom operates NB-IoT network services with national coverage.

US wireless industry association CTIA has announced that its ‘IoT Cybersecurity Certification Program’ will commence testing cellular-connected IoT devices in October. The venture – supported by national cellcos Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, plus major vendors including Ericsson and Nokia – builds upon IoT security recommendations from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) and the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST). Cameron Coursey, VP of Product Development, IoT Solutions, AT&T, said: ‘Establishing a common and readily achievable security programme that protects devices, consumers and our networks is a critical initiative as the IoT market continues to grow exponentially.’ Sprint’s Senior VP of IoT, Ivo Rook, stated: ‘All operators and technology providers need to work together to ensure that robust security can foster continued growth and innovation.’ William Boni, Senior VP of Digital Security at T-Mobile, added: ‘To realise the exciting promise of IoT, security must be considered at every turn. By setting these standards, the wireless industry is proactively leading the charge to secure previously unsecure devices, protecting our networks and customers against cyber-attacks.’

Zimbabwean fibre network operator PowerTel, a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), has announced its entry into the IoT segment, reports Agence Ecofin. In addition to maintaining pre-paid electricity meters via IoT technologies, PowerTel is providing new services including vehicle tracking, generator monitoring and power line monitoring.

Russian fixed telecoms operator MTT and infrastructure provider Russian Towers have signed a cooperation agreement to expand LoRaWAN IoT network coverage across Moscow city and the Moscow region, TelecomDaily reported. Earlier this summer, MTT revealed plans to cover five large cities with LoRaWAN, and in July it launched a LoRaWAN project in Samara. LoRaWAN sensor-based services in Moscow are being aimed at business centres, shopping malls, industrial usage, housing and utilities, street lighting, and ‘other companies involved in providing urban infrastructure services’. Meanwhile, Russian broadband operator ER-Telecom continues its LoRaWAN rollout, recently announcing deployment in the city of Penza.

The Kenyan division of Liquid Telecom is partnering Sigfox to deploy an IoT network with coverage of up to 85% of the population. Sigfox base stations will be connected via Liquid’s fibre network and IoT sensor-based services will be aimed at sectors including agriculture/fishing, transport/logistics, energy/utilities, industrial, retail, and banking/finance/insurance. Meanwhile, South African Sigfox network operator SqwidNet has signed up vehicle tracking specialist NetStar as a partner. NetStar – which has around 600,000 vehicles using its tracking systems – will offer dual-technology telematics devices with Sigfox connectivity; the partnership means that all assets tracked by Netstar will be visible, under a service-level agreement, in South Africa and any of the 45 countries where Sigfox operates, at no extra cost, according to SqwidNet chief sales and marketing officer Chetan Goshalia.

Lastly, South Korea’s SK Telecom is installing IoT sensors on base stations across its national cellular network to assist in earthquake detection, ZDNet reported, with an initial 300 locations earmarked where earthquakes are most prevalent. The operator intends to install sensors at over 8,000 locations nationwide by 2020. SK Telecom’s sensors read in real-time an earthquake’s size, strength and wave, with data to be sent to the Korea Meteorological Administration for analysis. The service will be expanded at a later date, for instance by connecting sensors to nearby factories to automatically shut facilities down in the event of an earthquake.

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