IoT Time: Internet of Things digest

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23 Jul 2020

Deutsche Telekom IoT has announced the completion of its LTE-M network across Germany, now commercially available in both post-paid and pre-paid IoT offerings, including its Business Smart Connect LPWA and M2M tariffs, and augmenting its existing NB-IoT network. Rami Avidan, CEO of Deutsche Telekom IoT, declared: ‘LTE-M gives our customers the opportunity to develop new solutions where previous technologies had their limitations. The technology is a firm part of our overall IoT network portfolio. It is 5G-ready and therefore future-proof.’ The operator’s press release states that LTE-M can ‘bridge the gap’ between standard 4G offerings and NB-IoT and is also regarded as a successor of 2G and 3G as those technologies are gradually phased out across the globe. LTE-M enables new use cases across a multitude of industry sectors, most notably in the areas of smart city, wearables, e-health and smart tracking. In comparison to NB-IoT, LTE-M offers higher data rates (up to 350kbps), lower latency, connected mobility (handover between cells) and SMS support. In comparison to legacy M2M technologies like 2G, 3G and standard LTE, LTE-M offers optimised energy consumption and superior indoor coverage, as well as up to a 50% lower module cost. With these characteristics, LTE-M is in a position to address an entirely different set of use cases. LTE-M roaming is available bilaterally between Germany and France, with Germany-Belgium roaming to be added within the next few weeks.

Latvian operator Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT) has also announced the nationwide deployment of an LTE-M network, claiming a first in the Baltics. LMT now offers both NB IoT – generally aimed at static devices – and LTE-M for a wider range of devices and sensors including mobile use cases. LMT considers both the technologies to be an essential part of 5G network evolution, while enabling local manufacturers and start-ups to develop new products for the Latvian market as well as exporting to other countries. The most popular IoT devices in Latvia currently include water meters, smart street lighting, parking sensors and smart home devices, with LMT flagging up rapid evolution in other products such as smartwatches, home smart helpers, medical devices, factory automation and smart city solutions.

In Namibia, the City of Windhoek says residents and businesses will ‘massively benefit’ from its in-deployment smart city services programme, with benefits including faster and cheaper fibre-fed internet access, automated municipal services, smart metering for water and electricity, public Wi-Fi services, ‘multimedia marketing’ and CCTV surveillance. The New Era newspaper writes that in its five-year strategic plan ending in 2022, the City has prioritised the smart city concept to ‘restore its ability to govern itself more effectively, focusing on ensuring financial sustainability and initiatives that focus on technological advancement, cleanliness, best practices, vibrancy, green, affordability and innovation.’ The project required the City to be granted a Telecommunications Service Licence by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), but officials have denied allegations that the City had entered into a ‘joint business venture agreement’ with China’s Huawei, and also refuted claims that the municipal council had applied for a 5G spectrum licence.

The European Commission (EC) has launched an antitrust competition inquiry into the consumer IoT sector in the EU, focusing on connected products and services which can be controlled at a distance, for example via a voice assistant or mobile device, including smart home appliances and wearable devices. EC Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said: ‘The consumer Internet of Things is expected to grow significantly in the coming years and become commonplace in the daily lives of European consumers … access to large amounts of user data appears to be the key for success in this sector, so we have to make sure that market players are not using their control over such data to distort competition, or otherwise close off these markets for competitors. This sector inquiry will help us better understand the nature and likely effects of the possible competition problems in this sector.’ The EC’s announcement noted that ‘there are indications that certain company practices may structurally distort competition. In particular, there are indications relating to restrictions of data access and interoperability, as well as certain forms of self-preferencing and practices linked to the use of proprietary standards.’

Swiss-based global IoT connectivity provider Telecom26 is supporting SystemOne with its initiative to enable real-time test result communication, timely containment and treatment actions for infectious disease programmes in Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The testing programmes are being implemented in conjunction with each country’s Ministry of Health and build upon SystemOne’s existing work across Africa tackling numerous diseases including TB, HIV, Ebola and now COVID-19, with its ‘Aspect’ software enabling connected diagnostic data in real-time. Telecom26’s Multi-IMSI global SIM cards were developed with the specific goal of improving connectivity in remote areas. They enable devices to automatically access and switch between multiple networks both in-country and across borders. Multi-IMSI profiles are pre-loaded on every SIM allowing for simple reconfiguration if the primary network has poor or no service. In addition, SystemOne is trialling Telecom26’s multi-SIM routers in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. These enable diagnostics devices to access connectivity and automatically switch between multiple cellular networks – and any Wi-Fi or LANs – so that they always use the best performing connected network. Telecom26 SIMs are compatible with 1,100 cellular networks from over 620 mobile operators in more than 220 countries.

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