IoT Time: Internet of Things digest

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26 Nov 2020

Vodafone UK is launching a new range of IoT services that it says will remove barriers to IoT adoption for businesses to track, monitor and manage assets, giving them vital data, insight and control. By partnering with IoT.nxt, part of the Vodafone Group, Vodafone aims to ‘offer customers every part of an IoT solution, with a single data management platform, and the capability to integrate old and new devices in one system’. In the new range of services, Vodafone will provide IoT sensors and devices, create a data management platform, and offer ongoing professional services to make IoT accessible to all businesses, including those without specialist capabilities in-house. In 2019 Vodacom – part of the Vodafone Group – acquired a 51% share in South Africa-based IoT.nxt. Vodafone highlights that markets that can most quickly benefit from IoT adoption include utilities, logistics, public transport, healthcare, manufacturing, and building management.

Nokia and China Mobile reached a strategic agreement to provide seamless IoT global connectivity services for both Chinese and international customers based on Nokia’s Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) managed service. The partnership will enable China Mobile IoT (CMIoT) to expand its international OneLink IoT capabilities, which will be underpinned by WING, enabling CMIoT to provide its customers with global IoT connectivity services quickly and cost-effectively, leveraging the global scale of Nokia IoT infrastructure, therefore capturing greater IoT market share. Based on this agreement, Nokia and China Mobile will cooperate on IoT connectivity services and jointly build a Chinese node of Nokia WING for CMIoT in Chongqing.

Germany’s Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA) announced that it has assigned frequencies for 88 local private 5G networks (5G campus networks) since applications began one year ago, after receiving 93 applications in total. BNetzA allocates local spectrum in the 3700MHz-3800MHz band for Industry 4.0 applications as well as for agriculture and forestry, and alongside large and medium-sized companies the 5G recipients also include research institutions. President of BNetzA Jochen Homann said: ‘With the frequencies for local 5G networks, we are creating space for innovations. We are seeing great interest in the frequencies and continue to expect numerous applications.’ Fees are charged for frequency assignments depending on the bandwidth requested and the size of the area covered. The fee structure enables business models of start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as agricultural applications to be implemented. A list of the allocation holders is published at the link below (the list contains only organisations that have given their consent to publication).

Orange Romania is developing 5G use cases in public transport and smart energy in partnership with the Municipality of Alba Iulia and consortium members including Urban Hawk. A ‘safety and security in public transport’ project aims to increase the safety and comfort of users and is divided into two components: infotainment services (access to public services of the municipality, streaming media, access to social networks, e-mail access, online shopping) and critical public safety services. These services will be provided in vehicles and at stations. Vehicles will be equipped with surveillance cameras that will be connected to a Command & Control Centre for identifying threats to public safety, such as theft, lost property that may pose a potential hazard, or medical emergencies.

In the US, Senet and B2B telecom solutions provider GeoLinks have partnered to deliver LoRaWAN network connectivity across GeoLinks’ coverage areas in California. GeoLinks, the largest winner of Connect America Fund II programmes in the state, is adding LoRaWAN to its connectivity portfolio as part of its strategic growth and accelerated network expansion plans, using Senet’s Radio Access Network Provider Services to complete targeted network build-outs serving a broad range of IoT markets and applications. GeoLinks will also be participating in Senet’s patented Low Power Wide Area Virtual Network (LVN), contributing to the unified carrier-grade LoRaWAN connectivity service managed by Senet across the US. LVN participation also provides GeoLinks and their customers with critical services needed to deploy IoT solutions at scale, including standardised device activation and deployment processes, predictable quality of service through advanced rating and network management, and roaming for mobile IoT applications. GeoLinks and Senet are initially targeting high-growth IoT applications that have proven traction in California, including water and gas utility services, and smart agriculture in rural areas where the characteristics of LoRaWAN provide cost and performance benefits compared to cellular networks.

Russian carrier MTS and Ericsson have announced they are launching ‘Russia’s first commercial 5G-ready private dedicated network’ for gold and silver producer Polymetal at the Nezhdaninskoye gold deposit in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), providing a critical communications infrastructure and supporting IoT applications. Built on Ericsson Dedicated Networks solutions (supporting 4G LTE and 5G Non-Standalone, and enabling dual-mode core capability to support 5G New Radio Standalone), the network will facilitate remote monitoring and managing mission-critical processes in difficult geographic and weather conditions. Rival Beeline Russia has recently tested a private LTE network at a unit of nuclear power company TVEL, a division of state-owned nuclear power group Rosatom, in partnership with integrator Greenatom (also a subsidiary of Rosatom). Tests focused on deploying a single LTE-based environment for various digital services for the nuclear power industry, including IoT applications such as smart video surveillance and others. Another federal network operator, Tele2 Russia (a subsidiary of Rostelecom), has signed a cooperation agreement with the government of the Smolensk region, lining up digitalisation projects including the expansion of NB-IoT and LTE-450 network technologies for emergency services and the automation of the agricultural industry, plus potential work on big data analytics and environmental monitoring systems.

MTS Belarus has launched a pilot NB-IoT dairy farm management solution, developed in cooperation with Chinese company AOTOSO. 120 cows in the Glubokoye district of the Vitebsk region have been fitted with connected collars for remote monitoring of their health indicators. Data received via sensors are stored in the MTS Cloud service and are available to personnel on any device via a web browser. Similar systems are currently used by hundreds of smart dairy farms in China, with implementations also in Russia, the UK, Czech Republic, the US and other countries.

Japan’s SoftBank Corp and Subaru have claimed a ‘world first’ in the automated driving field by verifying use cases for 5G/Cellular V2X vehicle assistance in merging lanes on a highway. In the first use case – ‘merging from merging lane into main lane’ – an automated vehicle calculated its own appropriate velocity for lane merging to avoid collision, applying feedback from an application on an MEC server via a 5G network and from its own in-vehicle sensor, safely merging into the space between two vehicles in the main lane. In a second use case – ‘merging onto main lane in a traffic jam’ – the automated vehicle on the merging lane sent a deceleration request for merging to vehicles on the main lane using vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The vehicle that received the request calculated the appropriate position and velocity for safe merging and sent entry permission in a timely manner, enabling the other vehicle to safely merge into the adjusted space.

Lastly, we go out on a wing and a prayer as self-driving ‘chicken trucks’ have been deployed by KFC in Shanghai, China, serving the public with fast food without human interaction in line with efforts to support social distancing. InterestingEngineering.com reports that the finger-lickin’ fleet consists of 5G-connected autonomous vehicles developed by China’s Neolix Technologies, similar to those designed by the latter for goods deliveries in China including contactless medical supply delivery (also currently used by hospitals in Thailand). The Neolix cars support Level 4 autonomous driving, using an array of sensors for obstacle detection/avoidance, and the company is reportedly working with Pizza Hut to provide a similar service.

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