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IoT Time: Internet of Things digest

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16 Feb 2023

Mobile operator Bite Lithuania has announced reaching nationwide coverage with its LTE-M IoT network, with its CTO Mindaugas Rauba noting that the new technology is designed to support IoT services previously utilising the 2G network earmarked for eventual closure, whilst LTE-M ‘ensures a more stable and even more accessible connection for many devices’ and is expected to operate ‘at least until the 2040s’. LTE-M usage examples highlighted by the company include smart electricity/water metering (in conjunction with NB-IoT, which Bite launched commercially in 2020), vehicle/cargo tracking, new solutions for agricultural optimisation, and replacement of 2G connectivity in elevators, security alarm systems, yard gates and many other objects, while noting that its LTE-M network is already used by Bite customers with devices such as smart watches and health monitors. Bite listed other benefits of LTE-M such as: reduced risk of network failure, lower energy cost, device battery life extension and improved data security.

Saudi Arabia’s stc Group has signed a cooperation agreement with smaller Saudi telecoms operator GO Telecom (Etihad Atheeb) enabling the latter to provide IoT services throughout stc’s networks including access to 5G and low power wide area (LPWA) technologies. stc Group Chief Carrier & Wholesale Officer Mohammed Alabbadi said: ‘Our partnership with GO Telecom further cements our commitment to supporting virtual network operators in the Kingdom expand their reach and develop their services. We are focused on ensuring all sectors can benefit from IoT technologies as part of the Group’s efforts to empower the digital transformation process in the Kingdom.’

Telia Sweden and Ericsson have launched a 5G industrial innovation programme under the ‘NorthStar’ banner, giving participating companies access to a new 5G innovation hub to explore the latest 5G technologies such as network slicing and positioning, with connectivity across Telia’s public 5G network as well as local (private) 5G networks. NorthStar initially focuses on the automotive industry and the development of smart and sustainable transport solutions. The first customer is AstaZero, a full-scale test environment for automated transport systems outside Gothenburg run by the research institute RISE, and the partners announced that, with EU funding support, NorthStar will explore ‘5G transport corridors’ involving connected vehicles’ journeys between ports, industrial zones, public highways and private premises, involving transitions between public/local 5G networks as well as cross-border transport.

In the Netherlands, network operator KPN is partnering Dutch Air Traffic Control (LVNL) and ANWB Medical Air Assistance on drone test flights aimed at enabling manned and unmanned aircraft to fly safely through the same airspace. A digital drone corridor test will start in the first half of this year, allowing medical drones to fly between two locations of the Isala hospital in Zwolle and Meppel for the urgent transport of blood, medicines and diagnostic samples. Later in the year, flights will also take place in other locations, for example near Rotterdam, to gain experience in the busy airspace near Rotterdam-The Hague Airport.

A new EU-funded 6G smart network project has begun its activities under the name HORSE (standing for Holistic, Omnipresent, Resilient Services for Future 6G Wireless and Computing Ecosystems). The HORSE 6G consortium consists of: four industry partners (Atos, Telefonica, Ericsson, EFACEC); four academia and research centres (National Inter-University Consortium for Telecommunications [CNIT], University Polytechnic Catalunya, Technical University Braunschweig and NKUA); and six SMEs (Martel Innovate, Suite5 Data Intelligence, HOLO, ZORTENET, Sphynx Technologies Solutions and 8BELLS). HORSE has received funding from the Smart Networks and Services Joint Undertaking (SNS JU) under the EU’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, aimed at research in preparation for 6G and ‘revolutionary advancements of IoT, devices and software’ to address fundamental principles of the 6G system.

Authorities in Kazakhstan have approved a national standard for IoT – the ‘NB-IoT Wireless Data Transfer Protocol’ – which will come into effect on 1 March 2023, reports. Gabit Mukhambetov, General Director of KazStandard, stated that potential areas for application of the standard include housing and communal services, e.g. smart meters. Cellco Beeline Kazakhstan initiated and developed the national IoT standard for use by all network operators and companies implementing IoT solutions, which it says ‘creates conditions for accelerating digital transformation and improving efficiency in many areas of the economy.’ Beeline’s Commercial Director Rauan Kabdrakhimov added: ‘Adoption of the national standard will significantly increase the interest in the Kazakhstan market of manufacturers of modern smart devices and suppliers of NB-IoT solutions.’

Japan-based IoT connectivity services provider Soracom, a subsidiary of KDDI, announced that it has withdrawn its application for listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, explaining that the decision followed a review of the economic environment and market conditions and was influenced by recent stock market trends among other factors.

In the US, broadband giant Charter Communications (Spectrum) announced a new strategic partnership with Texas-based technology company Quext, making Quext IoT the preferred smart home offering for new and existing customers served by Spectrum Community Solutions, Charter’s brand dedicated to multi-family properties. Charter will offer Quext IoT’s smart apartment technology with its Advanced Community Wi-Fi solutions, giving residents the ability to remotely manage smart home devices such as apartment door locks and thermostats. The arrangement also enables Quext to expand its market via Spectrum Community Solutions’ 41 US state footprint.

UAE-based e& enterprise iot & ai, part of e& (formerly Etisalat), has teamed up with Emirates Health Services (EHS) to explore cloud-based systems and smart platforms for community health programmes, specifically focused on the Northern Emirates. The pair featured the ‘Digital Clinic’ at the Arab Health Exhibition and Conference 2023, and the partnership aims to improve access and quality of care through the integration of digital technologies into clinical workflows, evidence-based care and shared decision making. Digital clinics allow patients to receive medical care remotely, which can be particularly beneficial in rural or remote areas, or for those with mobility issues. e& enterprise iot & ai was recently formed under the e& enterprise division after the acquisition of Smartworld, one of the UAE’s leading technology solutions providers and systems integrators.

Mobile provider Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has partnered Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) on a USD35 million pre-paid/smart electricity metering programme, which aims to cut debt risk from payment defaults. The project is being implemented through ZESA subsidiary Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC) and Econet Business Solutions (EBS).

Dubai-headquartered iWire Global, a provider of IoT solutions in countries including Turkey, Jordan and India, has signed a partnership agreement with Singapore-based UnaBiz – owner of Sigfox and integrator of hybrid LPWA IoT technologies – to further accelerate the adoption of IoT technologies in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region through a closer alignment with regional IoT regulatory frameworks and requirements. iWire aims to expand its business reach to other MEA countries by adopting the global ‘0G’ Sigfox network standard alongside other IoT technologies to provide best-in-class solutions and services. Last year, iWire announced plans to invest more than USD34 million in the MEA region to support its IoT expansion plans.

Kyocera Mirai Envision (KCME) and WorkingGroupTwo (WG2) have agreed to jointly develop and offer an end-to-end solution for private networks in Japan. KCME delivers solutions that integrate mobile/ICT technologies including mobile internet, AI, IoT, big data and virtual cloud. As part of the new reseller agreement, KCME will leverage WG2’s mobile-core-as-a-service to deliver private networks that rely on sXGP (a local standard for unlicensed LTE spectrum), pLTE (Broadband Wireless Access, BWA), and local 5G capabilities. WG2 offers a modern core network delivered as a hosted service, allowing operators to attach their radio networks to a global, common mobile core platform powered by infrastructure from Amazon Web Services (AWS). Potential customers include various businesses using sXGP and/or local 5G. In the case of sXGP, the offering from KCME and WG2 will mainly replace PHS (Personal Handyphone System) facilities that are currently being phased out in Japan. Unlike PHS, which is a voice-only system, the LTE-based sXGP provides mobile broadband and IoT capabilities. Regarding local 5G, end clients would be able to establish a radio DX with 5G capabilities.

Indian state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has forged a partnership with IT provider Echelon Edge to deploy private 4G/5G networks for enterprise customers. Utilising BSNL’s 4G/5G spectrum allocated for private networks, Echelon Edge plans to deploy private 5G in mines, refineries, airports, government infrastructure, office buildings and other sites. BSNL is also partnering system integration firm Amantya Technologies to set up private 5G networks under a revenue sharing model, the Economic Times reported.

The Things Industries, a specialist in enterprise LoRaWAN solutions, has announced reaching the milestone of one million devices connected to its network server infrastructure, ‘The Things Stack’, distributed across a large base of customers, system integrators and device vendors across the globe. The Things Stack is designed to provide a secure and efficient way for businesses and organisations to connect and manage their low-power and long-range LoRaWAN IoT devices across a variety of verticals. The most recent customer highlights include the deployment of 150,000 smart water meters for Severn Trent Water (UK), 47,000 air quality sensors across 1,700 schools in Canada, smart workplace solutions across commercial real estate in the US and Europe, and enabling LoRaWAN for Germany’s Deutsche Bahn railway operator.

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