IoT Time: Internet of Things digest

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25 Feb 2021

Sigfox Germany has entered into a ten-year partnership with Vantage Towers (the European tower infrastructure arm of Vodafone Group) to expand its ‘Sigfox 0G’ IoT network, with over 350 new sites earmarked for deployment in the first year, and at least 500 sites within three years. Sigfox Germany currently operates more than 4,800 macro and micro sites, serving major customers such as Deutsche Post and Siemens. Vantage Towers’ infrastructure in Germany includes 15,000 rooftop sites.

Russian cellular heavyweight Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has switched on an NB-IoT network in Antarctica, deployed at the Russian Antarctic Progress Station, with trackers and multi-sensors enabling analysis of movements in glaciers and snow cover, and monitoring the integrity of snow runways. The 900MHz NB-IoT network operates within a radius of up to 35km of the station, and the new capabilities will enable remote monitoring of trackers (installed via helicopter) on hard-to-reach glaciers. Microclimate control in the station’s living quarters is also operated via NB-IoT sensors developed by MTS.

Orange Belgium announced the launch of a Smart Parking solution using sensors, smart cameras and a mobile app to guide customers directly to available parking spaces via their mobile device. Implemented at the Waasland Shopping centre with nearly 3,000 parking spaces, the project was undertaken in partnership with Communithings, which Orange Belgium has helped to develop in Belgium and abroad via its ‘Orange Fab’ acceleration programme and a minority investment.

Canada’s Telus has partnered UK-based IoT connectivity management solutions provider Eseye to launch ‘TELUS Global Connect’, offering businesses cellular IoT connectivity across 700 networks in 190 countries. As part of the partnership, Telus Ventures has invested GBP15 million (USD21 million) in Eseye. TELUS Global Connect offers IoT customers a single SIM with multi-IMSI carrier profiles, a single contract, and a single platform and connectivity partner to simplify and optimise global IoT deployments, with 24-hour customer support. Mike Cihra, Telus VP of IoT, said: ‘More than a standalone platform, TELUS Global Connect fulfils customers’ demands for an enterprise-grade network operation powering their products and services from connectivity through to built-in security and world-class support.’ Eseye CEO Nick Earle added: ‘This strategic partnership and investment in Eseye marks an inflection point for the company. Our many years at the leading edge of cellular IoT connectivity have seen us deliver value to more than 2,000 customers across the globe.’

Telecoms regulator Anatel reported that Brazil ended 2020 with 28.233 million M2M/IoT subscriptions on mobile networks, up by 3.569 million in twelve months. Vivo retained the top market position with 10.452 million subscriptions at end-2020, ahead of Claro (9.622 million), TIM Brasil (3.794 million), Oi (2.257 million) and Algar Telecom (968,000), while Brazilian MVNOs continued to gain traction in the sector, accounting for 1.134 million M2M connections.

International communications enabler BICS has added 5G capabilities to its global ‘SIM for Things’ solution, which already supports 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, LTE-M and NB-IoT, allowing enterprises to access more than 700 mobile networks worldwide. BICS SIM for Things initially supports 5G device connectivity in Canada and Taiwan, with plans to add up to 50 locations by the end of 2021. BICS says the ‘borderless’ 5G support will enable ‘enterprises, OEMs and hardware manufacturers to unlock business opportunities and enhance competitiveness with new compelling use cases for connected devices’.

Mobile operator Vodafone Ukraine reported that its IoT/M2M connection base grew by 79% in two years (2019-2020), helped by its January 2020 NB-IoT network launch, while its business customers near-tripled their usage of Big Data/IoT services including Vodafone Analytics/IoT Monitor/Big Data Scoring since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, amidst an overall 25% increase in new corporate client connections last year. To meet customer demand – noting that its mobile data traffic consumption increased 1.4 times in 2020 – Vodafone Ukraine has updated its IoT tariffs and increased their inclusive data volume, effective for all B2B customers from 1 March 2021.

Lastly, Huawei has launched a project to utilise AI technologies for servicing pig farms in China – the world’s largest pork producer and consumer – including monitoring the health and weight of animals, identifying diseases, tracking their movements and monitoring their diet. Huawei’s solutions will include a facial recognition system adapted for the industry – AI will distinguish pigs by analysing their eyes, ears and snouts.

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