IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

25 Apr 2019

Malaysia’s Maxis has claimed the launch of the country’s first NB-IoT network. On its website the cellco said it is activating NB-IoT coverage in ‘specific areas of key IoT market centres, which include Cyberjaya, Penang, Kuching, Putrajaya, Johor Bahru, and KLCC’, and aims to launch more sites ‘throughout Malaysia’ to serve businesses looking to optimise costs and boost operational efficiency. Maxis identified some key example sectors for NB-IoT solutions: utilities management (smart metering to track energy, water or gas usage); smart city infrastructure (monitoring and maintenance/optimising of e.g. street lights, waste disposal, drainage); agriculture (optimising agricultural production via sensor-based monitoring); and environmental (e.g. detecting air and water quality or early warning of forest fires and other events).

A1 Croatia (formerly VIPnet) has also announced a new NB-IoT network deployment, having presented its technology and new services at a Smart Solutions Day event, local site Vecernji reported. Austrian-owned A1 highlighted that the new Croatian IoT network supports up to 200,000 connected SIM devices per base station, offering advantages of low power consumption, coverage of remote and hard-to-reach locations and secure connectivity.

An earlier NB-IoT adopter, Telia Sweden (which claimed nationwide NB-IoT coverage by May 2018), has signed a ten-year agreement with ONE Nordic to connect around 900,000 electricity meters for electricity distributor Ellevio to its NB-IoT network, representing Telia’s largest NB-IoT deal to date. Johan Svensson of Ellevio said: ‘NB-IoT is ideal for hard-to-reach areas and enables machine-to-machine communication that fits perfectly with our smart grid development. It also gives us the opportunity to develop completely new IoT services for our customers in the future.’ The rollout of the new meters begins in the spring of 2020 and continues until the end of 2023.

Russian mobile market leader Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is also forging ahead with NB-IoT business expansion, announcing its latest network launches across St Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad region (reaching eleven cities/towns in the region). MTS’ NB-IoT network has reached more than 50 Russian regions (of its 83-region LTE network) since it announced its switch-on last September.

Ukraine’s third largest mobile operator by subscribers Lifecell – part of the Turkcell group – has expanded its LoRaWAN-based IoT network in Kiev, Lviv and Kirovohrad in partnership with specialist provider IoT Ukraine. Having disclosed last July that the partners were deploying an initial 40 LoRa stations in Kiev, Lifecell’s IoT network – running on unlicensed spectrum – now consists of 80 LoRa stations across three cities. Lifecell’s rivals Vodafone Ukraine and Kyivstar are both deploying NB-IoT networks using licensed cellular spectrum, whilst Lifecell’s M2M cellular services remain based on 2G/3G. Elsewhere in Ukraine this week, the Ministry of Infrastructure has revealed plans to run tests on 5G/IoT technology covering motorways.

Japan’s NTT DOCOMO and Itochu Logistics USA are trialling a solution based on LTE-M for managing outsourced truck fleets in the US, The Fast Mode reports. Devices in the trucks collect data, such as locations and frequency of sudden braking, sent via an LTE network to a dedicated website. The solution can also provide temperature, humidity, brightness and other data depending on needs, as well as notify customers when the trucks approach their destinations. This week NTT DOCOMO has also participated in funding VDoo Connected Trust, which raised USD32 million to help drive market adoption of the latter’s IoT security platform.

In Brazil, cellco Oi is testing IoT services in the alternative 450MHz LTE band, partnering agribusiness group Amaggi in piloting solutions aimed at improving farming productivity, initially in the state of Mato Grosso.

Italy’s Internet of Things Observatory at the Politecnico di Milano has presented its latest market report, identifying Utilities (Smart Metering/Smart Asset Management) as the largest Italian IoT segment (valued at EUR1.4 billion [USD1.6 billion] in 2018, up 45%, and representing 28% of the market), driven by the installation of four million connected gas meters and 5.2 million second-generation smart electricity meters during the year. The Smart Car segment was placed second (up 37% to EUR1 billion representing 21% market share), followed by Smart Building (EUR600 million, up 15%). Total Italian IoT market value climbed 35% in 2018 to EUR5 billion, including applications based on cellular connectivity (up 27% to EUR2.8 billion) and other communication technologies (up 47% to EUR2.2 billion).

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Croatia, Italy, Malaysia, Sweden, Ukraine, A1 Hrvatska (formerly VIPnet/B.net), IoT Ukraine, Lifecell (formerly Astelit), Maxis Mobile, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), NTT DOCOMO, Oi, Telia Sweden