IoT Time: Internet of Things digest

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25 Nov 2021

Objenious, the IoT division of French mobile and fixed operator Bouygues Telecom, has announced the launch of its NB-IoT network, initially covering more than 1,000 communes (municipalities) and planning ‘nationwide’ coverage in 2022. The NB-IoT launch follows Objenious’ LTE-M network switch-on which occurred in late September this year, and the group says it is the only French player to offer a complete range of cellular IoT technologies – 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, LTE-M and NB-IoT – while additionally operating a LoRaWAN IoT network covering more than 30,000 communes. In a press release Objenious extolled the virtues of NB-IoT combining energy/cost efficiency and high-performance coverage including deep indoors, meeting requirements of e.g. ‘the Smart City (management of water, waste, lighting), Smart Building, management of energy efficiency and industrial asset tracking’ whilst the technology is also supported by 5G Standalone networks. Objenious anticipates that, combined, LTE-M and NB-IoT will ‘account for 50% of new [IoT] connections by 2024’. The LTE-M network was available in more than 1,400 French municipalities from launch, with ‘national’ coverage expected ‘by 2022’, addressing a wide variety of usage cases ‘from Smart City to connected transport, logistics, health and smart metering’. Objenious director Bernardo Cabrera highlighted: ‘If LTE-M is a real Swiss army knife of IoT, responding to a broad use case, NB-IoT is a particularly sharp blade. Indeed, with a more economical module cost and very good energy performance, NB-IoT is already establishing itself in the world.’

Telia Estonia has partnered local firm Bercman Technologies to launch a 5G-connected smart pedestrian crossing in Tartu, which detects road users and warns them of potential dangers with light signals. Bercman CEO Mart Suurkas explained: ‘a smart pedestrian crossing will [e.g.] send a message to the car in an emergency in the future, where the automatic brake assist system is activated if necessary, or a message to the luggage robot that it is safe to cross the pedestrian crossing.’ Similar projects are being launched in Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, Greece, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.

Paratus Namibia and Ongos Connect have signed a commercial agreement to bring fibre connectivity to at least 11,000 new residents in Ongos Valley, billed as ‘the first Namibian smart city development’. Ongos Connect MD Americo de Almeida noted: ‘For Ongos Valley to be a truly smart city, we must have every home connected to fibre. We look forward to working with Paratus in the next phase of building the commercial and support services sector of the Ongos Valley vision.’ The first-phase new-build development involves 4,500 homes and supporting infrastructure, with plans for another 24,000 homes, 21 schools, parkways, greenways, and commercial centres, with integrated smart resource management driven by technology and data systems and powered by green/solar energy.

Bahrain’s Electricity and Water Authority has chosen Nokia to provide a private LTE network solution to digitise, automate and future-proof its distribution operations, enhance grid efficiency and security and improve service quality to consumers, while paving the way for easier adoption of IoT use cases and smart services. In a first phase, Nokia will cover Al Muharraq, with subsequent plans for the network to connect thousands of secondary substations and hundreds of primary substations across Bahrain.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has conditionally approved an application from France’s Kineis to offer satellite services in the US market via a proposed constellation of 25 small Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites providing IoT device connectivity and monitoring of maritime communication. The future LEO constellation is subject to French authorisation.

In Spain, Telefonica Tech has joined the 5G smart roads initiative (AIVIA Orchestrated Connected Corridors) led by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, working to develop advanced monitoring, sensors and simulation technology whereby conventional, connected and autonomous vehicles can coexist, in partnership with Microsoft, 3M, Kapsch TrafficCom and Capgemini.

Orange Business Services, Ericsson and ArcelorMittal have launched the ‘5G Steel’ programme to test 4G/5G connectivity at ArcelorMittal’s industrial sites in France over the next three years, supported by the French government as part of the ‘France Recovery’ plan. 5G steel projects will involve 5G network slicing to tailor services to each business process, targeted to different business operations (e.g. production, maintenance and logistics), supporting worker flexibility and mobility in various situations. Other 5G Steel industrial use cases will involve autonomous rail vehicles in Dunkirk and Florange, autonomous road vehicles, remote field maintenance feedback, virtual/augmented reality and safety devices.

Orange Business Services has also deployed more than 15,000 smart tracker IoT devices and 250 antennas at two aircraft engine production sites in France to remotely locate and manage tools and equipment in real time for Safran Aircraft Engines. The aircraft firm is accelerating the digital transformation of its industrial processes and optimising the tracking and management of its tools in large-scale production areas.

In the UAE, network operator Du has showcased live use of a 5G private network-controlled robot using Athonet cloud native 5G Standalone (SA) core network and running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Snowball Edge. The live demo used solutions from Energy Robotics, and the solution is adaptable to a variety of use cases including providing 5G ultra-reliable low-latency connectivity (URLLC) to remote-controlled robots for on-site inspections in hazard environments such as energy applications, manufacturing, security surveillance and others.

Orange Tunisia is collaborating on 5G industrial use case testing with electronic car component supplier Draxlmaier, robot manufacturer Enova Robotics and facility management firm Novation City, with Draxlmaier’s factory in Sousse being used to demonstrate 5G-supported industrial applications such as supply chain and process/asset monitoring.

Tele2 Sweden is partnering Hugo Delivery to test 5G connectivity for the ‘Hugo’ delivery robot, utilising an industrial 5G modem supplied by HMS Networks. The Hugo robotised trolley is designed for the final leg of deliveries to reduce environmental and economic costs, with ‘silent’ operations round-the-clock and without using fossil fuels.

State-backed Kazakhtelecom has revealed plans to partner Kazakhstan Post in developing IoT and telemedicine services. The pair signed a memorandum under goals to accelerate digitalisation in the healthcare sector and to scale IoT cases across the country.

Cosmote Greece and Ericsson have demonstrated ‘the first 5G ambulance in Greece’, involving remote examination of a patient in transit to hospital via Cosmote’s 5G network, with a doctor situated in Thessaloniki remotely examining the patient situated in Athens.

Vodafone Greece and the National Centre for Scientific Research (Demokritos) have showcased eleven IoT applications at their ‘Giga Campus’, including: Smart Parking; Accessible Parking Monitoring; Smart Water Metering; Smart Waste Bin Management; IoT Fleet Control; Business Temperature Tag (remotely controlling refrigeration units); Vodafone Temperature Control Advanced; Remote Healthcare; Sensing as a Service (aimed at municipalities measuring air quality, temperature, ultraviolet radiation, atmospheric pressure, humidity and exhaust gases); Mobile Asset Tracking; and Occupancy Control (monitoring occupancy limits of spaces for health and safety purposes).

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