IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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13 Jun 2019

Telekom Deutschland, the German arm of Deutsche Telekom (DT), has confirmed that its NB-IoT network has reached 90% geographical coverage of the country and over 90% of the population, with ‘complete’ coverage promised by end-2019. The network already supports a wide range of applications, e.g. NB-IoT-based Smart Parking (available in more than 50 German cities), bicycle tracking, smoke detection/alert systems (in partnership with Lupus Electronics), waste management (including ‘Smart Data Bins’ in partnership with Rhenus) and functions requiring deep indoor/underground coverage. DT has also introduced NB-IoT roaming in Europe, initially across its subsidiary networks in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, with other countries to follow (enabling services such as logistical monitoring of freight containers crossing multiple international borders). According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Telekom Deutschland activated NB-IoT on its live network in October 2016 in preparation for demos in Berlin, and by end-2018 its NB-IoT services covered over 2,000 locations across Germany (up from approximately 600 towns/cities at end-2017), with more than 300 businesses from various industries using the network (up from 200 a year before); its first ‘off-the-shelf’ commercial NB-IoT service packages were introduced in June 2017.

Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Communications has launched a partnership with Kerlink to deploy and promote LoRaWAN IoT networks globally for telecom carriers, start-up IoT connectivity providers, cities and large multinational companies. Tata has so far deployed LoRaWAN networks in over 40 Indian cities with a combined 250 million population via 10,000-plus Kerlink Wirnet iBTS Compact stations. Kerlink itself has served customer rollouts of LoRaWAN networks in 69 countries.

Russia’s second largest fixed broadband operator ER-Telecom has signed agreements with two subsidiaries of oil company Gazprom Neft (ITSK and NNGS) on the joint implementation of LoRaWAN technology involving pilot projects with business customers plus R&D activities, reports ComNews. Gazprom Neft is developing a ‘digital oil company’ and is aiming to use LoRa technology to efficiently gather primary data from oil fields. ER-Telecom is partnering Actility in the rollout of LoRaWAN across 60 Russian cities.

Russia’s number one broadband provider Rostelecom, meanwhile, plans to introduce an Intelligent Transport Network in Yekaterinburg, Perm and Chelyabinsk in a project spanning to 2024, TASS reported. The director of Smart City projects of the Ural macro-regional branch of Rostelecom, Oleg Izvekov, said: ‘The intelligent transport network is one of the basic components in a smart city. We will introduce them in pilot cities.’

Not to be ‘out-smarted’, Russian mobile and fixed operator Beeline has signed cooperation agreements with six regional governments covering Smart City/big data developments in St. Petersburg, Tver, Novgorod, Ivanovo, Smolensk and Sakha Republic. Beeline also inked an agreement with Skolkovo Foundation on 5G/IoT initiatives, including plans for a joint demo zone/‘technology cluster’ in the Skolkovo techno-park and campus near Moscow.

Moving ‘smartly’ on to Russia’s largest mobile operator MTS, the company has signed an agreement with Moscow’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, on launching pilot projects incorporating IoT, 5G, Smart City and VR/AR technologies. MTS will establish pilot network infrastructure in the capital this year for the programme in cooperation with Moscow’s Department of Information Technology. This week MTS also expanded its NB-IoT network to the Republic of Dagestan (claiming a first in the region), including the city of Makhachkala.

The Federation’s fourth largest cellco Tele2 Russia is branching out into consumer wearables, and this week launched an IoT tariff plan for smart watches, alarms and other smart devices; a RUB100 (USD1.55) monthly package includes 300MB data, 30 minutes of calls to all Russian numbers and 100 SMS. Tele2 says the data quota is designed to be sufficient for IoT devices’ low level of traffic consumption.

Looking to the skies now, Russian state-owned space corporation Roscosmos has announced plans to launch a new grouping of Gonets-2 satellites supporting IoT. Head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin elaborated on the project, quoted by Capacity Media: ‘Sensors will be installed on the ground, in particular on dams, bridges and railways. If their condition deviates from the norm, the sensors will transmit a signal to satellites within the Gosudarevo Oko [Sovereign’s Eye] system [a project itself at the approval stage with various agencies], which will start monitoring a particular facility and involve additional resources for retransmitting the signal.’

Staying airborne but a bit closer to ground, US telecoms gigamoth AT&T and Uber Elevate are launching tests of LTE (and eventually 5G) connectivity for electric vertical take-off & landing vehicles (eVTOLs) and cargo drones, aiming to ‘revolutionise short-range air travel and logistics’. Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and CTO, said: ‘We’re in the very earliest stages of seeing what 5G can do to augment next-generation air travel, but we’re excited for the possibilities. Ride-sharing services were one of the defining mobile applications of the 4G era. Air taxis and other new air vehicles could well eventually become a signature use case for 5G.’ Uber aims to launch commercial ‘Uber Air’ aerial ride-sharing services in 2023. The first US pilots are planned for 2020 in Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles, whilst Australian operator Telstra has also joined the Uber Air international pilot programme, providing its mobile network in Melbourne for testing the aviation transport system over the next twelve months.

Potentially aiming to shoot down such airy-fairy ventures, South Korea’s SK Telecom has partnered Silla University, tech firm Hanbit Drone and the 53rd Homeland Defence Infantry Division of the Korean Army to jointly build and demo an anti-drone system, designed to: detect illegal drones around the clock in real time; determine whether they carry hazards/threats by dispatching guard drones to track them; and neutralise them if necessary.

Finally, back down to earth with a bump, in a more mundane adventure Telia Sweden has gone on the buses with Nobina to launch an IoT-powered smart vehicle heating management solution, equipping 2,000 of Nobina’s 3,500 bus fleet with roof-mounted antennas communicating via Telia’s mobile network to self-regulate temperature, claiming an annual energy saving of 22GWh – equivalent to the energy production of two medium-sized modern wind turbines.

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