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IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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13 Sep 2018

Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has claimed a Russian first with the launch of services over its NB-IoT network in 20 cities across the Federation including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Kazan and Vladivostok. It plans to offer NB-IoT coverage in all large cities nationwide by the end of 2018. The NB-IoT infrastructure and service rollout is supported by technology solutions from Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung and Cisco, with MTS targeting sectors such as logistics/transport, energy/utilities, mining, manufacturing, retail, health, smart cities and smart housing. The mobile operator highlighted that the NB-IoT network will significantly reduce costs of implementing IoT/M2M solutions due to advantages over existing M2M standards, including increased network capacity, high radio-sensitivity, long service/battery life and low IoT module cost.

In another pan-Russia announcement, fixed network operator ER-Telecom disclosed that its LoRaWAN-based industrial IoT network has expanded services to 52 cities, stretching from the Pacific port of Vladivostok to the European exclave of Kaliningrad. ER-Telecom – operating under the brands and Business – has partnered platform provider Actility for the rollout, targeting 60 cities by the end of this year. IoT solutions on the LoRa network are aimed at the energy sector as well as smart city applications, housing/communal services, other urban services and transport companies among others, offering tailored solutions for ER’s business clients.

In the US, AT&T is narrowing down the launch window for its upcoming NB-IoT network, which will augment its existing low power, wide area (LPWA) IoT network based on LTE-M technology. AT&T now aims to launch NB-IoT connectivity services in the second quarter of 2019, Mobile World Live reports. Chris Penrose, president of IoT Solutions at AT&T, noted that cellular LPWA IoT services are finally starting to live up to the hype surrounding their early rollouts, saying that ‘use cases are taking off,’ and adding: ‘It’s about how we now truly scale this industry.’

Vodafone Group has announced it will double the number of European cell sites in its NB-IoT network footprint by the end of 2019, reflecting the demand it has seen from enterprise customers. The expanded NB-IoT network will reach ten European countries, including three planned additional commercial launches in the UK, Romania and Hungary, whilst coverage will be enhanced in the seven countries with existing NB-IoT services – namely Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain and Greece. Vodafone calls itself the global leader in managed IoT, with 74 million connections, its latest press release states. Outside of Europe, Vodafone will also expand its existing NB-IoT networks in South Africa and Turkey in 2018/19. Vodafone IoT director Stefano Gastaut commented: ‘NB-IoT gives businesses access to 5G capabilities a year before we expect large-scale consumer availability and I believe this will be a catalyst in the widespread use of IoT by enterprises.’

Indian IoT specialist Unlimit, part of the Reliance Group, has teamed up with state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to offer IoT services to enterprise customers across India in sectors including automobile, digital manufacturing, logistics, transportation, public sector enterprises and agriculture. Unlimit will leverage BSNL’s pan-India cellular network to provide solutions including IoT device management, managed connectivity, application software and advanced analytics. Jurgen Hase, CEO at Unlimit, said: ‘With the addition of BSNL’s connectivity, we are further expanding our services and capabilities to help scale essential IoT projects in India and contribute significantly in the digitisation of the rural society.’ Anupam Shrivastava, BSNL chairman, added: ‘By combining our pan-India coverage, last mile network access, and bandwidth with Unlimit’s range of services, we will help enterprises accelerate the pace of their new innovations and fast-track the digital transformation process.’

BlackBerry has unveiled ‘BlackBerry Spark’, described as the only Enterprise of Things (EoT) platform designed for ultra-secure hyperconnectivity from the kernel to the edge. BlackBerry Spark is aimed at manufacturers of complex ‘things’ such as autonomous vehicles and industrial equipment with the highest levels of security and safety-certification, as well as consumer-friendly interfaces to complex processes and AI, such as voice-activated speakers with built-in privacy protection. The platform is also designed for enterprises to leverage AI and manage smart ‘things’ regardless of operating system (Android, iOS, Linux, QNX, Windows) as well as snap-in existing platform services such as Android Things, AWS, Azure and Watson. BlackBerry also claims the Spark platform will make ‘military-grade’ security easy and intuitive for end users.

In another launch with eyes firmly on security, US operator Sprint, in partnership with its Japanese parent SoftBank Group’s member companies Packet and Arm, has unveiled the ‘Curiosity IoT’ platform, enabling enterprises to manage IoT devices and connectivity over the air across multiple SIM profiles. Sprint says that via Curiosity IoT ‘intelligence from device data will be generated instantly through the dedicated, distributed and virtualized core, built together with the new operating system. And the ultimate level of security will be provided from the chip to the cloud.’

Lastly, Cubic Telecom has launched its Global Connectivity Management Platform offered ‘as-a-Service’ to IoT device manufacturers worldwide, with the first devices hosted on the platform already being managed in Europe, the USA and South Korea. Cubic says its unique platform solution brings standards-based remote SIM provisioning and cloud-native advanced connectivity management functions such as zero-touch device registration and connectivity activation across different mobile networks, regions and regulatory conditions. Cubic underlines that its IoT platform has ‘entirely new integration capabilities, making it easy for device manufacturers from an array of different industries to deliver a truly global connectivity solution to end users through one global SIM and one platform … across all regions, with complete freedom of vendor choice.’

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