SFR (Altice France) has claimed the first launch of an NB-IoT network in France, and is deploying the low power, wide area (LPWA) technology across nearly 18,000 LTE 800MHz base stations on its 4G network. The telco’s SFR Business division is already offering NB-IoT services in large cities in southern France, with NB-IoT connectivity integrated with its ‘SFR IoT Connect’ and ‘SFR IoT Place’ products also providing 2G/3G/4G M2M coverage. SFR’s announcement on its website lauded the benefits of NB-IoT including: energy optimisation with up-to ten-year device battery life; extensive coverage including deep indoors; reliability and security; sustainable global standard; and varied use cases. SFR highlighted that the low-speed data transmission on the NB-IoT network can meet the requirements of applications for smart cities, data collection (e.g. smart metering), agriculture, industry, transport and other segments.
Japan’s Rakuten Mobile Network has selected *Nokia*’s ‘Intelligent Management Platform for All Connected Things’ (IMPACT) to roll out IoT services nationwide, aiming to deploy ‘various IoT applications faster and more cost effectively across multiple sectors such as agriculture, industry and the automotive field, including connected vehicles’. Nokia will provide turnkey deployment and integration of the IMPACT platform which covers connectivity/device management, data collection, device detection, analytics, business application development and subscription management. Rakuten earlier selected Nokia to build its mobile network, set for launch in October 2019.
Vodafone Czech Republic says it will integrate NB-IoT and 2G mobile connectivity into a single ‘multi-bearer’ SIM in the first half of 2019. A device equipped with a multi-bearer SIM chooses the most appropriate connection itself and can be used in, for instance, international monitoring of objects, battery-powered motion sensor camera systems and alarms, the company’s release added. Vodafone Czech Republic also noted that it has been operating NB-IoT services for a year, with ‘dozens’ of companies using the countrywide network including Veolia Energie CR, Spaceti, Hardwario, Elko EP and M2MC, and has run over 100 pilot projects. Local rival T-Mobile Czech Republic, meanwhile, has announced it is testing LTE-V (LTE for Vehicles, a.k.a. C-V2X), allowing direct vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-smart infrastructure communications. Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile’s pilot is in cooperation with Skoda, Qualcomm, CTU Transport Faculty (Prague) and VSB-TU (Ostrava), and is the first scheme in Europe under the ‘C-Roads’ project.
Staying out on the roads, US/UK giants AT&T and Vodafone Group have launched an automotive IoT connectivity partnership, to pool their expertise to develop connected car solutions across their combined footprints in North America, Europe and Africa. Key areas of focus will be: 5G and autonomous vehicle technology; V2X capabilities (vehicle-to-everything); in-vehicle entertainment; connected car applications and services; global service quality models; and connected car/smart cities intersection.
In another global partnership for Vodafone Group, the UK carrier has teamed up with chip manufacturer Arm to simplify IoT deployment. The strategic partnership enables remote provisioning for devices using NB-IoT and LTE-M, and provides ‘secure, open, standards-based deployment to any application and service provider across the globe’. The Arm Kigen iSIM supports development and deployment of IoT products that can be shipped and connected ‘anywhere in the world’, whilst Vodafone’s global IoT network enables organisations to connect IoT devices via the Vodafone IoT or Arm Pelion IoT platforms. Arm has also forged a partnership with China Unicom to deliver IoT services for Chinese enterprises and global companies establishing a local presence in China. The collaboration is supported by Arm Pelion Device Management and Arm Mbed OS alongside China Unicom’s new IoT platform.
T-Mobile Austria and its parent Deutsche Telekom are participating in the development of the worldwide ‘oneM2M’ IoT interface standard and have demonstrated one of the first prototypes at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. Maria Zesch, CCO of Business & Digitalisation at T-Mobile Austria, said: ‘The nationwide NB-IoT network from T-Mobile Austria offers a globally standardised radio technology for the Internet of Things in Austria. The industry urgently needs a standard such as oneM2M for IoT interfaces and applications. This is the only way to develop a diverse, innovative market for IoT products similar to the Android or iOS applications we are familiar with.’ T-Mobile is demoing an IoT module featuring the Qualcomm MDM9206 LTE modem with pre-installed oneM2M software that can be connected to a smart water meter, for example.
Looking briefly at other IoT developments, Australian operator Telstra is integrating *Ericsson*’s Connectivity Management services based on the Ericsson IoT Accelerator platform into its own mobile/IoT network for offering IoT connectivity to global enterprises. Telstra is also trialling IoT water management services in Western Australia with utility Busselton Water, involving a sensor monitoring network and analytics based on Software AG‘s Cumulocity IoT Solution Accelerator for Water Management. Singapore’s Singtel is launching AI-powered IoT network functions based on *Microsoft*’s cloud-based programmable Azure IoT platform, enabling IoT applications to migrate between devices and networks. Singtel has also signed a ‘Master Services Agreement’ with China Mobile enabling Singtel/China Mobile enterprise customers to deploy IoT devices in automobiles, consumer electronics and industrial equipment across China and Singapore. The partners will also cooperate on rolling out China Mobile International’s NB-IoT product/device range on Singtel’s network in Singapore. Nearby in Taiwan, Chunghwa Telecom has selected the Ericsson IoT Accelerator for enterprise IoT services, with the Swedish vendor noting that more than 30 service providers, spanning more than 100 countries, are now part of the Ericsson IoT Accelerator ecosystem, currently enabling connectivity management of IoT devices to more than 3,500 enterprises globally.
In more brief news, Vodafone Ireland has expanded its ‘V by Vodafone’ consumer IoT device range with the V-Pet location and activity tracker, whilst Vodafone Portugal has launched a NB-IoT parking project in Cascais, enabling drivers to access real time parking space information. France’s Orange Group has partnered NimbeLink to introduce the latter’s Asset Tracking Solution to the European IoT market, whilst NimbeLink has showcased a connected beehive (with live bees) at MWC this week. Orange France, meanwhile, has selected the ULE protocol from wireless chipset provider DSP Group for its new Connected Home service due to launch in France this spring.
Finally, a fishy story as Liquid Telecom Kenya is deploying a Sigfox IoT network to protect freshwater fish stocks. Liquid is piloting sensors monitoring water temperature and pH values in farmed ponds, sending data and instructions to farmers via the Android/iOS app of the ‘AquaRech’ system launched by the Kisumu innovation technology hub LakeHub and developer Pinovate. Liquid plans to equip 5,000 western Kenyan farmers with the system by the end of 2019; there are some 20,000 fish farmers in the region whilst the AquaRech programme will eventually be rolled out to 30,000 fish pond farmers countrywide. Liquid Telecom Kenya is continuing to roll out its Sigfox network across Kenya, which is being used for a range of IoT applications; two months ago the operator partnered Code for Africa (CfA) to install air quality sensors at 3,000 sites.
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