IoT Time: Internet of Things digest

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31 Mar 2022

Vodafone New Zealand has expanded its NB-IoT network coverage by partnering the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) and expects to surpass 60% NB-IoT geographic coverage over the next few years as its regional investment programme continues and the ‘Rural Broadband Initiative 2’ (RBI2) reaches completion. Tina Wilkerson, Product Owner for IoT at Vodafone NZ, said: ‘We’re delighted to be able to start offering Narrowband IoT to more of our customers across New Zealand. We’re looking forward to helping all New Zealanders find new and innovative solutions that use IoT to power their businesses.’ Local rival Spark New Zealand is acquiring a significant stake in environmental IoT provider Adroit, which Spark’s technology director Mark Beder says reinforces Spark’s commitment to IoT as a key future growth market, adding: ‘Our three-year strategy identifies IoT as a key future market, and in the last financial year we saw strong revenue growth and an 83% increase in connections. By further strengthening our partnership with Adroit we hope to accelerate this growth even further.’ Existing joint projects from Spark and Adroit include solutions for real-time water, air, soil and weather quality monitoring.

Japan-based Soracom is partnering Orange Wholesale France to expand global IoT connectivity services, allowing it to utilise Orange’s roaming relationships across more than 700 network operators. Soracom says that its expanding platform currently supports more than four million IoT connections worldwide, with more than 20,000 customers, an increasing number of which are offering connected products and services in multiple countries. CEO Ken Tamagawa said: ‘From the very beginning, Soracom has focused on making advanced IoT connectivity accessible to any IoT innovator, anywhere in the world. This partnership with Orange Wholesale France allows us to bring the capability of France’s largest MNO [mobile network operator] to Soracom customers around the world, helping them accelerate time to market.’

European IoT connectivity platform provider Wireless Logic has launched ‘Conexa’, a carrier-grade IoT-focused mobile network offering a single SIM for global deployments, aimed at reducing complexity and helping to address changing IoT needs. Conexa provides a suite of connectivity solutions, network control and security services for global, national and regional deployments and is built over an ecosystem of leading MNOs. It provides single or multi-network options and commercial models suited to both low and high data use according to application type. Wireless Logic CEO Oliver Tucker stated: ‘We designed Conexa with flexibility, scalability and usability in mind – as these are fundamental requirements for IoT managers and device manufacturers. For the IoT to continue to grow, innovate and thrive, companies need a simpler way to deploy and manage their solutions.’ Wireless Logic currently claims over eight million IoT subscriptions active in 165 countries and direct partnerships with 48 mobile networks, with total reach into more than 750 networks.

Germany’s 450connect has selected Huber+Suhner as supplier of LTE-450 antennas and components for its Germany-wide 450MHz network rollout focused on secure, critical communications services for the energy, water and other sectors. Carsten Ullrich, spokesman for the 450connect management board, noted: ‘The digitisation of critical infrastructures in Germany is essential for transforming energy. Establishing a fail-safe and highly available 450MHz platform is the necessary foundation for achieving the energy policy goals.’ Earlier in the month it was announced that Vantage Towers is providing nationwide tower infrastructure for the IoT/critical communications network being built by 450connect.

Vodafone Group is launching a platform that uses data from connected vehicles and devices to improve the safety of European roads, IoTtechnews reports. The new ‘Safer Transport for Europe Platform’ (STEP) is free and compatible with all in-vehicle navigation systems and third-party map apps. The platform is cloud-based and built on open industry standards. It will support participants including governments, transport authorities, vehicle manufacturers, mobility service providers, and other mobile network operators. Initially, STEP will facilitate the delivery of safety messages and targeted updates from road operators on lane closures, speed restrictions, and traffic incidents on the road ahead, across a variety in-vehicle systems and navigation apps. Further down the line, Vodafone aims to expand STEP’s abilities for more powerful applications such as warning drivers of large vehicles to nearby vulnerable road users like cyclists or pedestrians that could be out of view. Other examples include stolen vehicle tracking, usage-based insurance, and fleet management.

Malta’s GO has acquired a majority shareholding in IoT-based energy management company Sens Innovation Group (SENS) for an initial EUR1 million (USD1.1 million) investment, with the potential to increase to approximately EUR3 million. SENS leverages proprietary IoT technology to reduce energy consumption and associated costs for commercial buildings. It designs and builds customised solutions for clients that improve their business operations and efficiencies, whilst also contributing to the environmental responsibilities that modern business governance and legislation demands. SENS serves large hotels and commercial clients in Malta, the UK, mainland Europe and Dubai.

Kerlink LoRaWAN IoT gateways are being used in a seawater monitoring project in Mauritius, providing government agencies and water-sciences specialists access to continuous data on key water quality parameters. The monitoring system, under the government-funded Blue Resilience innovation programme, was designed by Mauritian firm Digital Twin Services integrating products from two French IoT companies, Aqualabo and Kerlink. In July 2020 a Japanese bulk carrier ran aground on a coral reef southeast of Mauritius, releasing over 1,000 tons of fuel oil, causing the worst maritime pollution in the history of the country, which depends heavily on its waters for food security and ecotourism. The first site of the pilot project was installed in October 2021 in Pointe aux Feuilles, and a second pilot site is expected to be deployed in the coming months in Albion.

Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison (IOH) has signed a partnership agreement with Industri Kereta Api (INKA) to introduce IoT-based public transportation solutions in Indonesia. The partnership will focus on two projects to welcome the 2022 G20 Summit in Bali, to be held in October this year. Firstly, the autonomous driving ‘Tram Mover’ project to be operated in Jakarta, and secondly an electric bus solution to be deployed during the Summit in Bali. IOH’s Chief Business Officer, Bayu Hanantasena, said: ‘Through this partnership, we aim to showcase the power of our IoT Solution that works in 4G, as well as in 5G technology, specifically how that solution opens up possibilities for a better-connected future. We believe our solution will inevitably bring fundamental changes across the transportation sector, enabling the innovation of autonomous vehicles, smart maintenance, and seamless and integrated transportation systems.’

Helium, which calls itself the pioneer of decentralised wireless communications, has completed a USD200 million equity funding round led by Tiger Global and Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Seven Seven Six, Goodyear Ventures, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Liberty Global, NGP Capital (backed by Nokia), Pantera Capital, Ribbit Capital, and Deutsche Telekom’s strategic investment fund Telekom Innovation Pool (TIP). Helium also announced it is changing its corporate name to Nova Labs. Nova Labs will invest the funds in the Helium ecosystem, while it says the change of name will ‘provide a clearer distinction between the corporate entity and the open-sourced Helium Network that is owned and operated by the people.’ ‘With Helium Inc. we built the foundation for the world’s first decentralised wireless network, leveraging the power of blockchain to democratise access to the internet at a global scale,’ said Amir Haleem, founder and CEO of Nova Labs, adding: ‘Through Nova Labs, we are expanding our mission, pioneering a cultural movement towards the decentralisation of all wireless protocols.’ The company’s blockchain-based model invites people around the world to become a mini cell tower by deploying Hotspots and rewarding them in the Helium Network’s native token, $HNT. The Helium Network launched in 2019 and earlier this year surpassed half a million Hotspots, and today provides coverage for over 52,000 cities across 169 countries with more than 645,000 Hotspots.

Helium (Nova Labs) also recently announced Helium Roaming Services, allowing public and private LoRaWAN network providers around the world to leverage Helium’s coverage. Helium Roaming Services allows roaming partners to view and analyse their usage data through the new Roaming dashboard.

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