IoT Time: Internet of Things digest

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10 Mar 2022

UK telecoms giant Vodafone has launched ‘Digital Asset Broker (DAB)’ – a global ‘Economy of Things’ platform that enables connected devices to trade with each other, developed in partnership with Mastercard. As reported by IoTtechnews, the platform – which uses blockchain technology and is compatible with existing mobile wallets – allows businesses across industry sectors to transform physical goods into tradable digital assets. Connected devices are often limited in their automation due to awaiting manual payment for service they provide but, in the future, connected devices will be able to make transactions on a user’s behalf. Vodafone’s initial DAB deployment in partnership with Energy Web provides electric vehicle owners and electric fleet managers with real-time data on the availability and compatibility of nearby charging points and authorises their vehicles to transact with on-street chargers. Vodafone CTO Johan Wibergh declared that DAB ‘will drive the new Economy of Things where everyday objects and devices can negotiate, buy, and sell services on our behalf. We are actively talking with many other companies to rapidly expand partnerships and widen the ecosystem worldwide to include other features and payment schemes.’

Italian international carrier Sparkle has launched ‘Sparkle IoT Global’, a managed IoT connectivity service allowing companies to control their assets across multiple countries with a ‘seamless’ user experience. The solution is based on the use of global M2M SIMs connecting to any cellular network, which means multinational companies don’t have to activate any service with local operators. In addition, thanks to its virtualised and cloud-native mobile network infrastructure distributed on all continents and roaming agreements with more than 500 mobile operators around the world, Sparkle offers high-performance, low latency connectivity on a global scale, which it says makes its IoT solution particularly suitable for applications requiring real-time control. IoT Global augments Sparkle’s portfolio of enterprise digital solutions including MPLS, Ethernet, managed SD-WAN, Cloud connect and Multicloud automation services.

Sigfox has received interest from nine companies in acquiring its parent division, with seven of these also showing potential interest in buying subsidiary Sigfox France, the group’s CEO Jeremy Prince disclosed. The France-based global IoT group recently entered insolvency following slow growth in IoT device take-up – significantly influenced by global electronic component shortages and COVID-19 related factors – which weighed heavily on its financial situation, particularly its level of indebtedness. All Sigfox operations are continuing in the meantime. Sigfox IoT network technology is present in 75 countries.

Armenian mobile operator Viva-MTS has launched a pilot NB-IoT network, highlighting the following advantages of the technology in its announcement: energy saving; capacity for mass connection of devices to each base station; relatively low price of equipment; and improved signal penetration in hard-to-reach locations including underground or remote rural areas. Aiming to serve businesses, government clients and individuals, Viva-MTS noted the wide range of NB-IoT devices in the market such as temperature sensors, smart locks, barometers, medical sensors, smart security systems, water meters, energy meters, vibration sensors, air quality sensors, smart trash cans and devices for logistics, agriculture and other sectors.

Vantage Towers is providing Germany-wide tower infrastructure for the 450MHz IoT/critical communications network being built by 450connect. Under a long-term framework agreement, 450connect and all its affiliated companies can use the approximately 19,400 towers in Vantage’s German infrastructure to deploy its 4G/5G network on a co-location basis, with emergency power supply to ensure that mobile services function for at least 72 hours in the event of power failure. The actual number of sites used and the rollout time schedule will be defined by 450connect in due course, with the 450MHz platform going live by 2025.

Hutchison Ports’ Port of Felixstowe has announced becoming the largest UK port to deploy 5G and IoT technology, in partnership with mobile operator Three UK (3), Blue Mesh Solutions and the University of Cambridge via grant funding under the 5G Testbeds & Trials programme run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The project seeks to deliver on two use cases: predictive maintenance of quay cranes using IoT sensors and providing communications for remote control yard cranes. IoT sensors are fitted to quay cranes to monitor the stresses and strains placed on them by day-to-day operation. Using 5G to transmit the data enables these systems to operate in real-time to support safety-critical applications. Using the data generated by the IoT sensors and linking it to the actual activity on the crane, together with previous maintenance records, Cambridge University is developing an algorithm to predict equipment failure and suggest the optimum time to maintain the equipment. The project is due to complete in September 2022.

Australia’s Smart Paddock has chosen to implement Semtech LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN standard into its ‘Bluebell’ smart global positioning system (GPS) ear tag to monitor livestock location in real time as well as to analyse cattle behavioural data to solve real-world livestock management issues. CEO Darren Wolchynock said: ‘To meet our customer needs of a low cost ear tag that could be deployed in the thousands over large farm properties, LoRaWAN came out on top of all other technologies for its long distance capabilities.’

Orange Poland has announced that 33 cities and towns across the country now use its smart water management services. The cellco added that it installed nearly 19,000 smart sensors on water networks during full-year 2021.

Ericsson is running a 5G drone trial in Denmark in partnership with TDC NET, TDC Erhverv (TDC Business) and another TDC/Nuuday brand Relatel, serving four Danish businesses: TV2, Connect 44, Lorenz Technology and Openhouse. The pilot running from February to May uses the Ericsson Drone Mobility solution to test service packages for daily drone operations including optimised drone connectivity, remote command and control, and video streaming. A release stated that 5G capabilities are a key contributor to unlocking the full value of drones, such as automating data flows and operating beyond the visual line of sight.

Indian network operator Vodafone Idea (Vi) has launched a collaboration with A5G Networks to enable industry 4.0 and smart mobile edge computing in India. Vi has set up a pilot end-to-end private network in Mumbai utilising existing 4G spectrum and A5G’s autonomous core software and white box RAN elements, showcasing industrial automation use cases, enterprise applications, and low latency scenarios.

UK-based Stratospheric Platforms, a partner of Deutsche Telekom, has carried out a world-first demonstration of 5G High-Altitude Platform System (HAPS) technology in Saudi Arabia at the Red Sea Project site, using aircraft to extend a 5G service across a geographical area of 450 square kilometres. The trial was facilitated by Saudi telecoms regulator the Communications & Information Technology Commission (CITC). HAPS involves radio stations located on an object flying or floating in the stratospheric layer, potentially bringing cellular connectivity to areas not already covered by existing networks and enabling additional capabilities including IoT, emergency communications, disaster recovery, temporary coverage for events and tourist hotspots, and terrestrial site backhaul. Richard Deakin, CEO of Stratospheric Platforms, noted: ‘Now that the 5G HAPS technology has been proven, the question is one of further commercial development. This is why having a diverse consortium such as ours, which includes strong government support, is essential to the continued realisation of the programme.’

South Korea’s KT Corp has signed a partnership agreement with Turk Telekom to expand cooperation in developing robots, smart cities and self-driving cars based on 5G, AI, big data and cloud technologies. ‘We plan to cooperate with Turk Telekom to develop services tailored to the Turkish market based on our expertise in digital transformation,’ stated Yoon Kyung-rim, head of KT’s Group Transformation Division.

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