IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

7 Nov 2019

India’s Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are preparing to launch commercial NB-IoT services in the coming months, having brought various partners on board to develop a complete device and sensor ecosystem, the Economic Times (ET) reports. Airtel is in the process of finalising around 20,000 sites in Karnataka and Chennai to conduct NB-IoT trials. Ajay Chitkara, CEO of Airtel Business, told ET: ‘We’ll be going with a pilot in a denser way rather than just a few trial sites … in a couple of months, we will be commercially rolling out.’ Vodafone Idea, meanwhile, has already conducted NB-IoT pilots in eight cities including Kochi, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Chennai involving smart metering, aiming for a commercial launch in the next few weeks. Nick Gliddon, chief enterprise business officer at Vodafone Idea, told the newspaper: ‘We’re looking at winning our first commercial deployments over the next six weeks. So, commercially we’re also seeing customers now, wanting to buy that. Once we contract them, we will go and deploy.’ Another of Vodafone Idea’s IoT pilot projects, named ‘BreathetheChange’, is aimed at reducing air pollution in Agra.

Vodafone Ukraine is conducting user testing in anticipation of an imminent commercial launch of NB-IoT services, having confirmed its network’s technical readiness. Successful tests have already been carried out on sections of the live network in Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa, Zhytomyr, Kropyvnytskyi, Krivoy Rog, Kherson and Dnipro, providing smart utility metering for clients in the housing sector. Vodafone is inviting companies to test IoT services over its 1800MHz network in segments such as farming, logistics, security, parking, lighting control systems and other use cases requiring sensors, metering devices or trackers. Meanwhile, its Ukrainian cellular rival Kyivstar has confirmed the launch of its NB-IoT network in five regions: Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk.

Dutch start-up Hiber has announced that its nano satellite-based ‘Hiberband’ IoT service is live, aimed at bringing low power, low cost connectivity to remote and developing areas. Hiber’s first customers will be trialling the end-to-end IoT service over the coming months in zones previously lacking connectivity. Hiber says it will disrupt the global connectivity market by empowering individuals and organisations to reliably transmit data from the world’s most hard-to-reach places for less than USD1 per month per device. With over 70 customers already signed up in sectors including government, environment, transport & logistics, agriculture and mining, Hiber adds that any industry operating in remote and developing areas of all continents can utilise the network.

Brazil’s American Tower has expanded its LoRaWAN IoT network to 170 cities a year after launch, significantly ahead of its one-year target of 80 cities, Mobile Time reports. The network footprint represents 55% national GDP coverage. The company also said that the network is transmitting more than seven million communications from connected objects, with particularly strong growth in the cargo and fleet segments.

Another Brazilian operator, Algar Telecom, has launched a business unit dedicated to IoT for the B2B market. Algar says its new division will develop, enhance and scale IoT solutions, taking care of end-to-end operations including budgeting, sales, installation, results tracking and continuous improvement promotion, supported by the group’s ‘Brain’ innovation centre. As reported by Mobile Time, B2B projects initially prioritised by Algar involve ‘resilient connectivity’, rural connectivity and interconnectivity between companies.

In more Brazilian news, America Movil subsidiary Claro Brasil has expanded its LTE-M 700MHz/1800MHz IoT network across 13,500 sites in more than 2,250 cities around the country, covering around 75% of its LTE footprint, with the goal of raising this figure to 100%. IPNews reports that Claro aims to expand in verticals such as agribusiness, fleet management, health and smart cities.

Telefonica reported that its group IoT revenues rose 33.4% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019 to EUR130 million (USD144 million) while it reached 22.4 million connected IoT accesses (up by 1.1 million in the quarter) which it attributed to positive traction of IoT solutions based on managed connectivity. It also highlighted the launch of ‘Vivo Car’ services in Brazil in Q3, following the Spanish launch in Q1 this year. IoT is reported as part of Telefonica’s ‘Advanced Digital Services’ segment (also including Cloud and Security services) which saw a 32.1% rise in total sales to EUR439 million in the quarter.

Telenor Sweden and Th1ng have entered into a long-term collaboration to develop the next generation of smart services and solutions for connected cities and real estate. The pair aim to launch the first services in the market as early as next year, in parallel with Telenor’s network modernisation and expansion of a nationwide 5G network. Sofia Ahlmark Hyvarinen, IoT Manager at Telenor, said of the Th1ng partnership: ‘Together, we will develop new sustainable solutions for, for example, energy and water consumption, which will help our customers build the smart properties of the future and at the same time reduce costs.’ The services will be delivered over Telenor’s national network infrastructure based on technologies including LTE-M, 3G, 4G and in the long term also 5G and NB-IoT.

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