IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

24 Jan 2019

The LoRa Alliance, the association of companies backing the open LoRaWAN protocol for low power wide area (LPWA) IoT networks, announced passing the milestone of 100 LoRaWAN network operators worldwide by the end of 2018. The Asia-Pacific and Europe regions showed the most growth in LoRa network deployments during the year – up 30% and 50% respectively. Furthermore, the LoRA Alliance reported that the number of end devices connected to LoRaWAN networks globally tripled during 2018.

One high-profile LoRa adopter, Orange France, is currently engaged in a project to connect over three million Nova Veolia water meters to its LoRa network which covers over 30,000 municipalities and 95% of the population. Following a twelve-month trial, Nova Veolia’s IoT specialist subsidiary Birdz chose Orange Business Services to enable remote reading of more than 70% of the group’s meters by 2027. The system will also use the Live Objects data platform provided by Orange Business Services.

Alongside LoRa, Orange is following a multi-technology IoT/M2M strategy which also includes cellular licensed spectrum-based 2G/3G/4G and LTE-M. In another new project, the French operator will launch its home tele-surveillance services on the consumer market in spring 2019 for its fixed and mobile customers, having this month established a joint company with Groupama, Protectline (51% owned by Orange Group) to operate in the segment.

In line with the parent group, Orange Romania has also launched the ‘Live Objects’ platform, the operator announced this week. Live Objects is a secured platform with core functionalities for managing connected devices and analysing collected data, and is compatible with various technologies (e.g. 2G/3G/4G, LTE-M and other standards). Telefonica Spain, meanwhile, has attributed some of its annual M2M/IoT network connection growth to its own recently-deployed Kite IoT management platform. Telefonica said that the financial, retail, security, transport, logistics and automotive sectors drove its customers’ IoT services adoption, as it added 317,000 M2M/IoT active connections/devices on its Spanish network in twelve months to reach a total of 2.33 million at end-December, up 16% year-on-year.

Looking briefly at some smart city developments this week, Singapore mobile operator M1 – which operates a nationwide NB-IoT network – has chosen the ‘Impact’ IoT platform provided by Nokia to enhance its smart city services. In Kazakhstan, national operator Kazakhtelecom has launched its latest smart city project (‘Smart Aqkol’) in Akmola in partnership with the local authorities alongside Tengri Lab and ERG, involving a network of sensors and aggregation of data streams from regional institutions with the aim of developing local infrastructure, integrating systems and enabling advanced data analysis. In Kyrgyzstan, state-backed cellco MegaCom has launched a ‘Safe City’ project in the capital Bishkek in collaboration with Russian company Vega (not to be confused with the Ukrainian telco of the same name), with applications to include video surveillance of road traffic.

Lastly, the installed base of wireless IoT devices in Industrial Automation reached 21.3 million in 2018, according to a report from Berg Insight, which said annual shipments of such devices reached 4.6 million units worldwide in 2018, whilst growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16.3% this figure is expected to reach 9.9 million in 2023. While wired networking solutions are still predominantly used for industrial communications between sensors, controllers and systems, wireless solutions have gained a strong foothold in a number of applications, whilst there is also a growing trend among large industrial companies to deploy private 4G LTE networks instead of using Wi-Fi or wired solutions, the report added. It also noted that the introduction of 5G cellular technologies broadens the addressable market by allowing for deployments in situations where requirements related to bandwidth, latency and capacity cannot be fulfilled by current technology.

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