IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

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24 Oct 2019

Mobile network operator Three UK (3) is piloting low power wide area (LPWA) IoT services based on NB-IoT and LTE-M technologies in partnership with CKH Innovations Opportunities Development, a unit of 3’s parent CK Hutchison. 3 announced that the pilot at the Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory (InTEGReL) in Gateshead is the first step in a nationwide network rollout to support mass deployment of IoT devices. The lab is a collaboration between Northern Gas Networks, Newcastle University, Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water and Siemens. Three UK’s Wholesale division currently provides IoT connectivity to partners such as ARM, Arkessa, AT&T, Wireless Logic and Mobius, allowing the operator to target IoT industry verticals including retail, transport, logistics, infrastructure and utilities.

In the US, Sprint has announced the availability of NB-IoT on its Curiosity IoT platform to complement its existing nationwide Cat-M IoT network. Sprint says that NB-IoT further expands LPWA access to its dedicated, virtualised and distributed IoT network and operating system, bringing flexibility to address the unique demands of diverse connected device use cases. Sprint adds that the NB-IoT rollout meets the needs of SMEs, enterprises and government entities in how to connect, manage and secure ‘people, places and things’. Sprint also announced the upcoming launch of a private IoT network solution based on Edge computing, in partnership with Ericsson, which enables enterprise customers to manage IoT applications that have critical requirements, such as low latency or local breakout, without the need to traverse the macro network. Data from devices is turned into intelligence locally, creating benefits for a variety of verticals, such as manufacturing, public safety and mining, Sprint added.

AT&T and Vodafone Business have inked a deal to provide international roaming on their respective NB-IoT networks to make it easier for customers to create massive IoT deployments across the US and parts of Europe. The agreement initially includes AT&T’s countrywide US NB-IoT network and Vodafone’s networks in Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK and the Netherlands, effective by the end of 2019. Chris Penrose, senior vice president of advanced mobility and enterprise solutions at AT&T, said: ‘For the IoT to live up to its promise, it must be global. More and more of our enterprise customers are launching IoT applications across multiple countries. Working with Vodafone we can offer our customers simplified deployments to help scale their IoT plans across the US and Europe.’ The collaboration builds on the previous announcement in February that AT&T and Vodafone Business are offering LTE-M roaming across their respective networks in the US and the Netherlands.

Elsewhere, Vodafone Germany signed a strategic partnership with autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company EHang to collaborate on developing an urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem, firstly in Germany and then Europe-wide. Under the agreement, Vodafone will become EHang’s exclusive partner to provide connectivity to all EHang AAVs operating in Europe by equipping them with Vodafone SIM cards. EHang will become Vodafone’s exclusive UAM partner. Hu Huazhi, CEO of EHang, said: ‘Every AAV requires digital connectivity to ensure the coordination of air traffic, so fast networks like 5G are critical to enabling sustainable pilotless air travel and freight delivery systems.’ Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Vodafone Germany, added: ‘Autonomous air taxis will enable increased mobility options for all of us in the future. They will complement existing modes of transportation but allow us to fly above traffic jams if needed.’

Malta’s Melita has launched melita.io, a new brand dedicated to delivering M2M and IoT connectivity to businesses across Europe, providing solutions which include multiple packages designed for IoT operations, various connectivity options and a portal designed specifically for IoT connectivity management. Melita’s existing IoT client base is in Malta, Italy and Germany, with services such as car-pooling, fleet management, waste management and digital healthcare.

In Montenegro, Crnogorski Telekom has introduced ‘smart benches’ with internet connectivity as part of a ‘Smart Parks’ project in partnership with Podgorica-based Greenery, the latest in a series of solutions developed by Telekom including smart parking and air quality/noise monitoring systems.

Post Luxembourg is collaborating on a research project that aims to provide instant flood warnings using Sigfox IoT technology. Real-time data is collected by sensors that measure precipitation and send a warning signal in case of flood risk. The project, supported by the National Research Fund, is a collaboration with the Luxembourg Institute for Science and Technology (LIST) and the Administration of Water Management (AGE). Post’s Sigfox network has provided nationwide connectivity since 2016.

Lastly, DISH is releasing its third Request for Proposal (RFP) to vendors on 28 October as it prepares to build the first standalone 5G/IoT national broadband network in the US. Elements of the latest RFP include: Pre-Construction (site acquisition; architecture and engineering; utility coordination; regulatory compliance; and construction) and Procurement (staging; quality and safety management; civil engineering including electrical; network element installation; and tower climbing). DISH’s EVP of wireless operations, Jeff McSchooler stated: ‘We’re building a first-of-its kind standalone 5G network and want to employ a diversity of expertise from partners large and small. We’ll build upon the existing relationships we have with deployment vendors from our NB-IoT buildout, while seeking local, regional and national vendors that can apply their strengths to increase the speed and efficiency of our 5G network deployment.’ DISH previously entered into numerous master services agreements with national deployment vendors when it initiated the buildout of an NB-IoT network in 2018. As announced in July, DISH has committed to build a standalone 5G broadband network available to at least 70% of the US population by June 2023.

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