IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

7 Feb 2019

Indian mobile operator Vodafone Idea is aiming to boost its enterprise business by launching commercial NB-IoT network services by next month, having conducted pilot programmes in four cities for various use cases including smart energy/water metering, asset tracking, cold-chain monitoring, smart parking and wearables, the Economic Times reports. Following its commercial proofs of concept (POC) in Kochi, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Chennai, Vodafone Idea will expand NB-IoT ‘across India’ in the next twelve months, in the process grabbing the bulk of the nascent NB-IoT market, according to its chief enterprise business officer Nick Gliddon, who expects smart cities applications to drive growth alongside verticals like smart meters, automotive tracking and utilities. Vodafone Idea is focusing on NB-IoT because of its global cellular standardisation which should help bring device costs down as the ecosystem expands, Gliddon said, while also pointing out that areas such as agriculture and environment monitoring will build NB-IoT cases specific to India. In one partnership, Vodafone Idea Business Services has teamed up with energy meter manufacturer Genus Power Infra on a ‘commercial scale’ NB-IoT POC, with advanced trials of Automatic Metering Infrastructure ongoing. Note that Indian cellular rival Reliance Jio Infocomm last year launched an NB-IoT network with commercial services available in Mumbai, whilst Bharti Airtel is also conducting Indian NB-IoT pilots which it plans to expand to a commercial offering soon.

Claro Brasil will launch both NB-IoT and LTE-M networks commercially in April this year, according to Eduardo Polidoro, business director of the Brazilian group’s Embratel division, quoted by Teletime. Claro is aiming for complete nationwide LTE-M/NB-IoT coverage by the end of the year.

Telefonica Deutschland (O2) has already launched its NB-IoT and LTE-M networks, and is now providing NB-IoT/LTE-M connectivity for its business customers, claiming a German first in offering the dual standards which O2 says enable it to cater for a much larger range of business IoT applications. The company highlighted that stationary low-energy use cases – e.g. utility metering – are typically best suited to NB-IoT whilst LTE-M is often more suitable for mobile applications.

Elsewhere in Germany, Deutsche Telekom (DT) is working with partners on developing the ‘nuSIM’ (eSIM for IoT) initiative, moving SIM functionality from the physical SIM card directly to the chipset, MobileEurope reports. nuSIM is specifically designed for low-cost devices used in mobile IoT applications with a long lifespan such as asset trackers or smart motion/temperature sensors. DT is partnering specialists in IoT chipsets, modules and digital security with the aim of making the product commercially available in H2 2019.

Russia’s Federal Agency for Technical Regulation & Metrology (Rosstandard) has approved NB-Fi as a national LPWAN IoT standard, developed by the Technical Committee ‘Cyber-physical systems’ backed by state funding body RVC in cooperation with Russia’s Association of the Internet of Things. NB-Fi technology in IoT devices boasts a stable data transmission distance of up to 10km in dense urban areas and up to 30km in rural areas, operating in the unlicensed frequency bands 430MHz-500MHz and 860MHz-925MHz and transmitting data at speeds of 50bps to 25,600bps. Promising areas of use for the NB-Fi standard include ‘housing and utilities, power engineering, logistics, transport and industrial IoT solutions’ according to RVC’s website. The approval takes effect in April 2019. Elsewhere in Russia, the government has cleared the usage of 800MHz band frequencies for IoT devices, modifying regulations so that businesses and individuals may operate such devices in the 864MHz-865 Hz, 866MHz-868 Hz and 868.7MHz-869.2 Hz ranges.

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