IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

2 Apr 2020

Japanese cellco NTT DOCOMO announced that it has permanently discontinued its NB-IoT network services which it launched in April 2019, effective 31 March 2020. The operator’s release said that ‘in light of the current business environment’ it has ‘decided to stop providing this communication system in order to concentrate management resources’, highlighting that it will continue to provide Cat-1 and LTE-M cellular low power, wide area (LPWA) IoT communications systems, and will ‘continue to work on further improving the service to customers’. TeleGeography notes that DOCOMO launched LTE-M services in October 2018, while it is aiming to develop new generation 5G IoT services having commercially launched its 5G network on 25 March.

In Sweden, Netmore Group has acquired all shares in Landskrona-based Bredbandsson, which it said will ‘strengthen its position in IoT networks based on LoRaWAN and other radio networks that will be introduced over time … We intend to develop Bredbandsson locally in Landskrona but also utilise their offering in a larger context.’ Formed in 2010 and listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market since 2017, Netmore develops IoT solutions for cities, industries, real estate and housing organisations.

Thingstream, a provider of IoT Communication-as-a-Service, has been bought for CHF10 million (USD10.36 million) by fellow Swiss company u-blox, a global provider of positioning/tracking and wireless communication technologies including IoT chips and modules. u-blox said the acquisition will enable it to offer its 7,000-strong customer base complementary value-added services for fast growth IoT projects. Thingstream provides a comprehensive, end-to-end solution for global IoT connectivity using the industry standard MQTT protocol, offered ‘as-a-service’ which provides predictable cost and on-demand scalability. Thingstream’s MQTT Anywhere service offers data transfer across 600-plus telecoms carriers in 190 countries without necessitating a cellular data plan by transmitting MQTT-SN messages over 2G, 3G, LTE and LTE-M networks.

Russian mobile operator MegaFon rounded up some of its recent IoT initiatives in a presentation, including the launch of its MegaFon-Cargo automated freight shipping/logistics ecosystem service, the ‘MegaFon Environment’ environmental monitoring solution, and the revised IoT Last Mile tariff enabling wholesale customers to set up last mile and backup channel services using a dedicated mobile APN network for data security. MegaFon has also signed an agreement with SDS-Coal to drive the digital transformation of coal companies including building communications infrastructure at mining facilities. As previously reported in IoT Time, in late 2019 MegaFon deployed next-generation NB-IoT Cat-NB2 technology across 59 (out of 83) Russian regions, offering ‘a fivefold increase in speed compared to the current IoT generation’.

Elsewhere in Russia, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has used the Telit 5G FN980m data card module to complete its first successful 5G data call in sub-6GHz spectrum, on its pilot 4.9GHz 5G network zone in St Petersburg. MobileEurope reports that the module supports up to 6.5Gbps/3Gbps downlink/uplink with 5G. Denis Panasenko, Head of MTS’ 5G Centre, said: ‘The test with Telit is a key milestone because it used sub-6GHz spectrum, which is ideal for wide-area 5G coverage. Those bands will be critical for rapidly rolling out 5G, so it can quickly become the foundation for smart cities, IoT, telemedicine, autonomous vehicles and other advanced applications.’ The module has the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System and is designed for bandwidth-intensive applications like branch office connectivity, professional video broadcasting, digital signage and industrial IoT.

Swisscom is expanding its security solutions and services for business and government customers in Switzerland via a new partnership with ZecOps, which calls itself ‘the first agentless Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR) & APT detection platform’. ZecOps’ system will provide automated detection, analysis, and response to combat sophisticated attacks designed to evade security controls. Besides endpoints, servers and mobile devices, ZecOps technology is also suitable for IoT and embedded devices. The platform is commercially available and deployed in Tier-1 enterprises, carriers, banks, governments and defence entities in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. A Swisscom statement said: ‘We see great potential in enabling organisations to perform automated forensics investigations … reducing investigation time from months to minutes.’

Sweden-based Tele2 IoT is supporting Finland’s 9Solutions as it launches its new Nurse Call Lite product to support health workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Nurse Call Lite offers a plug-and-play solution that facilitates communication between nursing staff and patients in a secure and safe way, as well as management of urgent and non-urgent calls from patients. The wireless devices carried by staff are equipped with Tele2 IoT SIMs, with roaming enabled to ensure connectivity in the event of a network failure.

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Japan, Russia, Sweden, MegaFon, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), Netmore Group, NTT DOCOMO, Swisscom, Tele2, Telit, Thingstream, u-blox