IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

28 May 2020

Slovenia’s Telekom Slovenije has implemented its latest NB-IoT-based solution, a pilot scheme for Velenje Municipal Company enabling automatic utility reading and management, in partnership with Enerkon and 2GG-DS Measurements. The operator intends to expand the solution to other parts of Slovenia as a system for efficient, real-time management and optimisation of the distribution, supply and consumption of electricity, water and gas. Elsewhere, via a collaboration between Telekom Slovenije and Iskratel on hybrid public-private 4G/5G networks, the partners have established a 5G test ‘smart factory’ network at Iskratel’s production plant in Kranj. Also this month, Telekom Slovenije has joined the EU co-funded 5G Loginnov Industry 4.0 project, and will deploy a 5G test network in the Port of Koper for developing applications in transport/logistics management using sensors, analytics and automation including autonomous trucks. As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in April 2019 Telekom Slovenije announced that it had ‘completely upgraded’ its national LTE mobile network with NB-IoT technology, and was implementing its first NB-IoT projects in smart cities, e-mobility and e-health, while August 2019 saw the telco deploy its first ‘central communications station’ NB-IoT solution for municipal applications based on its NB-IoT network, with Zagorje ob Saviis its first municipality partner in the scheme.

The UAE’s Etisalat has chosen US-based Roambee to deliver IoT solutions for tracking and monitoring goods, assets and workers across the Middle East and Africa, aimed at industry sectors including logistics, construction, manufacturing, public transportation and others. The Etisalat and Roambee joint solution boasts real-time location, accurate arrival time predictions, and live condition analytics (temperature, humidity, and handling data) to minimise unpredictability and make supply chains more efficient, with the partners claiming to eliminate IoT adoption hurdles by offering an ‘out-of-the-box’ service bundling sensor hardware, IoT connectivity, IoT platform, actionable analytics, and 24×7 control-tower monitoring to mitigate business risk.

MediaTek has validated its new MT2625 NB-IoT chip on the network of Japan’s SoftBank to claim the first ‘global commercial readiness’ of ‘LwM2M over NIDD’ – a secure, ultra-efficient IoT communications technique with benefits including security improvements, cost-efficient scalability and reduced power consumption.

Hong Kong’s HKT has partnered property management/real estate services providers WEC and JLL to launch an IoT-powered property technology (PropTech) system involving over 4,000 IoT sensors at over 200 properties managed by JLL across Hong Kong, including Grade A commercial buildings, shopping malls, industrial buildings and residential complexes. 100 buildings will be serviced by end-June, with sensors monitoring temperature, humidity, air quality, security and water leakage. Data is captured/visualised in a central digital dashboard enabling big data analysis to attain business insights and refine/automate processes for increased operational efficiency. Meanwhile, rival 3 Hong Kong is supporting HK Electric’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure scheme, connecting smart meters via carrier-grade secure mobile VPN and giving customers access to detailed electricity consumption data online or via a mobile app. CEO Kenny Koo noted: ‘[3’s] high speed mobile network provides highly secure and reliable data transmission that enables digitalisation of meter reading and remote work. Going forward, Hong Kong’s development as a smart city will be significantly accelerated when 5G technologies and applications are deployed in the Internet of Things for the electric power industry.’

Vodafone Ukraine has extended a promotional 90% discount on NB-IoT network access for business customers up to 31 August 2020, offering a UAH20 (USD0.74) annual tariff including device data traffic. As reported by CommsUpdate, Vodafone Ukraine commercially launched its 1800MHz NB-IoT network, covering a population of 20 million, in January 2020 with the UAH20 promotion initially running to 20 May. The cellco highlights that NB-IoT enables encryption and authentication based on SIM cards not available with IoT technologies such as LoRaWAN, while it promotes NB-IoT use cases including remote/automated utility meter reading, resource sensors (e.g. monitoring for gas/water pipe leakages, etc.), waste disposal systems and smart city applications such as street lighting.

In the UK, the Financial Times reported that Liberty Global has reached an agreement with the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF) to support its new electric vehicle charging venture named Liberty Charge, which aims to utilise 40,000 street cabinets and 170,000km of cabling operated by Liberty’s British subsidiary Virgin Media. The CIIF, managed by UK private equity firm Zouk Capital, last year raised GBP80 million (USD98.3 million) from the Church of England-backed Church Commissioners investment fund and an equal amount from the UK government.

Swedish ‘smart connected services’ specialist Th1ng has acquired broadband network operator Bredbandstjanster i Dalarna, which it announced will increase its customer base for services to households and companies. Th1ng says that it now has over 10,000 residential and around 500 corporate broadband customers, in addition to its IoT platform which is installed across various municipalities in partnership with other operators. As reported by CommsUpdate, in August 2019 Th1ng acquired the broadband ISP operations of Lund-based Brabit.

In South Korea, SK Telecom and Omron Electronics have developed a 5G autonomous robot to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The robot leverages 5G/IoT, AI and autonomous driving technologies to perform functions including contactless temperature screenings for visitors to a building/area, and disinfection of premises. Rival operator KT Corp, meanwhile, has deployed 5G-connected autonomous carts at its smartphone warehouses to alleviate staff workload and lessen human-to-human contact amid the pandemic, ZDNet reported. KT’s ‘NarGo’ and ‘TarGo’ carts, co-developed with South Korea’s Twinny, include a version designed to carry large quantities of cargo, and a smaller version intended to assist individual employees. KT said a trial deployment led to staff movement decreasing by 47%.

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