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IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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23 May 2019

Canada’s Rogers Communications has announced its plan to launch NB-IoT technology to complement its national LTE and LTE-M networks and give customers more choice. Rogers says that NB-IoT is best used for asset monitoring, industrial automation, smart meters and smart cities, enabling stationary IoT devices and sensors to send and receive small amounts of data over long distances with very low power requirements, whilst NB-IoT will also enable consumer IoT applications such as personal SOS devices and trackers. NB-IoT rollout is starting in Ontario, with expansion to other parts of Canada planned next year.

Finnish mobile operator DNA is also giving its customers a choice between two cellular LPWA IoT technologies, having announced the deployment of LTE-M across its 4G network in southern, central and western Finland, reaching a coverage footprint equivalent to its established NB-IoT service. Back in November 2017 DNA reached 85% population coverage with the NB-IoT network, stretching across roughly half the territory of southern, central and western Finland, having launched its first pilot projects over the network in May that year.

China Mobile and ZTE have disclosed that they are in the second phase of developing their joint ‘NB-IoT Massive-connection & multi-service Virtual-verification Platform’ (NMVP). Currently the partners are engaged in network optimisation implemented remotely via their NMVP solution to ease the network capacity pressure from a large-scale smoke-sensing service of Beijing Mobile.

Elsewhere in China, Tencent is partnering The Things Network to launch LoRaWAN services, inviting Chinese enterprises, government bodies, universities, start-ups and manufacturers/developers to collaborate on building an open network for IoT device connectivity.

Hong Kong’s HKT (part of PCCW) and Flowbird have been awarded contracts worth HKD680 million (USD87 million) by the government’s Transport Department for the design, deployment and management of a new generation of parking meter system, which forms a key ‘Smart Mobility’ initiative of Hong Kong’s ‘Smart City Blueprint’. Vehicle sensors detect the occupancy of parking spaces and motorists use a mobile app to obtain real-time information on parking vacancy and pay parking fees, whilst the system also collects parking data for analysis to aid future management and planning. The new parking meters will gradually replace the old meters in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories by early 2022.

Telefonica (Movistar) has announced the commercial launch of the ‘Movistar Car’ service in Spain. For EUR3 (USD3.35) a month users get a connected LTE SIM with 3GB inclusive data usage and in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, security features (in case of impact, Movistar Car automatically calls a platform that initiates an assistance protocol), car status features (allowing scheduled maintenance checks and alerts related to vehicle failures) and location/navigation applications. Movistar is waiving a EUR20 activation fee until 31 December as well as the first month’s subscription. The company said it had 15,000 pre-order sign-ups for the service, whilst the wider Telefonica group already has over one million vehicles connected to its networks globally.

Lastly, VodafoneZiggo in the Netherlands is working with Omnidots on a pilot project at the 5Groningen test bed collecting earthquake data using NB-IoT connectivity and Omnidots’ ‘Swarm’ wireless sensors for instant transmission of measurement data. Omnidots’ director Marko Bolt gave some details of the pilot: ‘Our guinea pig is the Walfridus church in the Groningen village of Bedum. Not to worry, the beautiful church – with its famous slanted church tower – is not at risk at all. On the contrary, should an earthquake occur, we are the first to know … So far, everything goes like clockwork. The technology works, the connection is stable, as are the foundations of the tower.’

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