IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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29 Nov 2018

Deutsche Telekom (DT) has followed up its widespread deployment of NB-IoT across Europe and the US with the announcement that it is preparing to roll out commercial LTE-M technology in 2019. The German-based group’s LTE-M test networks are currently operating in Krakow (Poland), Berlin (Germany), Reutlingen (Germany), Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Vienna (Austria). Ingo Hofacker, Senior Vice President of IoT business at DT, said: ‘We are concurrently working towards first LTE-M network launches in several of our European markets by mid-2019. These will enable our customers to develop and test their LTE-M-based devices and applications.’ DT has recently run a competition wherein its ‘LTE-M Prototyping’ finalists have developed innovative solutions across several industry sectors, e.g. Smart City, Wearables, e-Health and Smart Tracking. The operator highlights that LTE-M offers higher data rates (up to 1Mbps) and lower latency than NB-IoT, as well as voice (VoLTE)/SMS support (whilst NB-IoT offers the best indoor coverage and battery life), and when compared to M2M, LTE-M offers ‘much lower energy consumption and better indoor coverage, and up to 50% lower module cost.’

Vodafone New Zealand has announced the simultaneous launch of NB-IoT/LTE-M on its 4G network. NB-IoT covers 97.5% of the population and 48.2% of the land mass at launch. LTE-M covers 60.1% population, which will increase to 96.6% and 40.8% (territory) as additional sites are deployed. Scott Pollard, Vodafone IoT country manager, noted that several pilot NB-IoT projects are running over the network.

Thai regulator the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) intends to introduce regulations governing IoT next year, covering numbering and identification (including 15-digit number fees, registration and number portability), spectrum and technical standards, transmission and competition permissions, security and privacy, plus data collection and interoperability, the Bangkok Post reports. The timing and content of the IoT regulation will be affected by the final version of Thailand’s upcoming Personal Data Protection Law, determining what data can be collected and used by companies.

Tele2 Russia and its part-owner Rostelecom have tested NB-IoT solutions for energy companies in Moscow and St. Petersburg with Ericsson, reports TelecomDaily. Data from electricity meters is transmitted via the Tele2 LTE (800MHz Moscow/1800MHz St. Petersburg) network using modems with embedded Rostelecom SIM cards. By the end of 2018, Tele2, Ericsson and Rostelecom plan to deploy two new pilot zones in residential buildings in Moscow to test the NB-IoT metering in ‘real conditions’. Pilots for other industries will be developed on the same infrastructure.

Indonesian cellco XL Axiata says it has conducted NB-IoT trials using ‘5G’ standard technology and will launch an NB-IoT network in 2019 if regulation supports it, reports IndoTelko. XL also said it expects its IoT/M2M business to display an average annual growth rate of 18% for 2016-2020. XL Axiata CEO Kirill Mankovski stated: ‘We have a fairly complete IoT solution from applications, platforms, connectivity to devices … The XL concept is sustainable. We have connectivity, then the second flexIoT platform, thirdly we have an out of the box solution for IoT, [and] a new IoT Lab where everyone can come and use the IoT facilities.’ He also highlighted NB-IoT’s advantages of high capacity, wider coverage and longer battery life, while noting that modules are becoming more affordable at under USD5.

Lastly, Ceske Radiokomunikace (CRa) and Semtech have reached 75% population coverage with a LoRaWAN-based IoT network in the Czech Republic, with plans for continued network expansion. Jan Skabrada, IoT Partnership Manager for CRa, said: ‘We chose Semtech’s LoRa Technology for its open ecosystem and the flexibility it provides for IoT applications. There is a strong push in the country to replace manual utility metering with an internet-based, Cloud-enabled solution.’ Currently, CRa has 8,000 active metering devices deployed across the country and plans to increase this number to 20,000 by the end of 2019. Smart meters reportedly reduce energy consumption by as much as 30%. Vivek Mohan, Director of IoT at Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group, added: ‘CRa provides Czech cities with flexible and reliable smart utility solutions that maximise efficiency in utility management. Leveraging Semtech’s LoRa technology, solutions such as these can be put into place to increase efficiency, reduce costs and help conserve energy.’

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Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Ceske Radiokomunikace (CRa), Deutsche Telekom (DT), Ericsson, National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), Rostelecom, Semtech, Tele2 Russia, Vodafone New Zealand, XL Axiata