M2M Monthly: a guide to recent machine-to-machine and IoT developments

13 Oct 2016

Vodafone Spain and Huawei of China have completed what they claim is the first over-the-air connection using standardised Narrowband-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology on a live network. The joint trial was carried out in Madrid, using a live 4G base station optimised to support NB-IoT technology, and utilised the cellco’s existing 800MHz spectrum. The operator is aiming to launch NB-IoT, an industrial grade Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network solution, on a commercial basis in early-2017. By 2020, Vodafone Group aims to have all of its LTE sites supporting NB-IoT technology.

In a parallel development, Deutsche Telekom and Huawei claim to have activated the world’s first NB-IoT end-to-end system on the operator’s live network in Germany on 4 October. Going forward, they plan to demonstrate the technology, along with a commercial NB-IoT smart parking system, in Bonn, Germany later this month. Interestingly, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom have focused on cellular-based NB-IoT from the outset – rather than the competing Long Range (LoRa) platform (see below), because the former uses licensed rather than unlicensed spectrum, and falls under the 3GPP standards umbrella (3GPP having completed the standardisation of NB-IoT in June 2016).

Orange France has deployed its IoT network featuring LoRa technology in 18 urban locations (encompassing 1,300 towns), thus exceeding its target for the first half of 2016. The operator now offers the IoT services in Angers, Avignon, Bordeaux, Douai and Lens, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice, Orleans, Paris, Rennes, Rouen, Toulon, Toulouse and Strasbourg. Going forward, Orange is aiming to have IoT presence in 120 urban areas, equivalent to approximately 2,600 towns. The French telco expects to earn EUR600 million (USD662 million) in IoT revenues by 2018, under its ‘Essentials2020’ strategic plan.

Orange Group and Ericsson have announced that they will develop 5G use cases and service scenarios, including technical alignment and external demonstrations. The partnership will enable 5G technology building blocks, proof of concepts, and pilots across Europe from 2017 onwards, with use cases including: multi-Gigabit internet access in suburban and rural environments; mission critical IoT supporting the digital transformation of industry and society; and connected cars. The collaboration will also cover 4G to 5G solutions evolution, including energy and cost efficiencies, and use of Software Defined Network (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) technologies.

VimpelCom and Cisco Jasper have formed a new M2M/IoT partnership designed to enable enterprises to implement, manage and monetise IoT services. VimpelCom’s Smart Connectivity management platform is based on Cisco Jasper’s ‘Control Center’ M2M/IoT platform, aimed at boosting business in areas such as fleet management and smart metering through seamless device connectivity. Clients will also be able to expand M2M/IoT services to their customers across all markets that are served by VimpelCom, in Russia, Italy, Algeria, Pakistan, Ukraine, Bangladesh and Eurasia countries (whilst Cisco Jasper currently partners with 33 mobile operator groups representing more than 120 mobile networks worldwide, enabling further scalability potential).

According to Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), the total value of the Russian M2M sector increased from RUB225 billion (USD3.6 billion) in 1H15 to RUB300 billion in 1H16. MTS served roughly four million M2M SIM cards as of 30 June 2016, giving it a 52% share of the sector at that date. MTS operates in the M2M sector via its wholly-owned NVision unit, which it acquired in July 2015.

US cableco Comcast has unveiled machineQ, a new trial IoT venture. The test phase will see Comcast work with select commercial partners in proof of concepts to use its network to enable partners to gather, transmit and analyse data from connected devices distributed throughout their organisations. The new platform will use Semtech’s Long Range LoRa Wireless Radio Frequency Technology to deploy network trials in Philadelphia and San Francisco later this year. Target applications include utility metering, environmental monitoring (e.g. temperature, pollution, noise), and asset tracking through LoRa-enabled devices and network services.

Also in the US, AT&T plans to trial enhanced Machine Type Communication technology in San Francisco next month. The LTE-M network trial will include technology help from Altair, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Sierra Wireless, U-blox, Wistron NeWeb and Xirgo. Participants are set to include Badger Meter, CalAmp, Capstone Metering, PepsiCo and Samsung. The telco expects to launch LTE-M technology across its network in 2017.

Vodafone UK has started trialling vehicle-to-vehicle communications (LTE-V2X) in the UK and is planning further trials in Germany. LTE-V2X enables cars to chat with each other to improve road safety and efficiency, and the telco is now testing new technology to enable vehicles to talk to each other and to roadside infrastructure over greater distances. An ‘initial validation’ has taken place on a private test track in the UK.

Elsewhere in the automobile sector, Telstra has teamed up with Cohda Wireless to trial V2X technology over the operator’s LTE network in South Australia. The trial covered applications such as alerting a driver to roadworks ahead, giving green light priority to high priority vehicles and providing optimal traffic signal timing where the vehicle is informed of the most suitable speed to approach a traffic light so it is a green light when the car arrives. Telstra director of technology Andrew Scott said the trial confirms 4G can support vehicle-to-infrastructure applications.

In one further V2X development of note, AUDI, BMW Group, Daimler, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm have announced the formation of the 5G Automotive Association. The association will develop, test and promote communications solutions, support standardisation and accelerate commercial availability and global market penetration, whilst seeking further members/partners including mobile network operators.

Czech M2M MVNO SimpleCell plans to launch in neighbouring Slovakia, local news sources have reported. Prague-based SimpleCell, which launched late last year in association with T-Mobile Czech Republic, utilises SIGFOX technology. The network is expected to be operational by May 2017, covering 93% of the population, although a mobile network partner has yet to be established.

Telenor Connexion seeks to expand the focus of its IoT-centric ‘Global Partner Programme’, and enable businesses of all sizes to collaborate efficiently to offer customers a complete IoT solution, including hardware, communication and data analytics. In 2016 alone, Telenor Connexion has already added ten new partners to its partner ecosystem. These include large players such as Tieto, the largest IT services company in the Nordics, global electronics manufacturer Flex and smaller niche players such as LumenRadio (a wireless radio provider) and STE Industries, a provider of smart wireless systems.

Deutsche Telekom has launched a multi-IoT platform at its ‘House of Clouds’ cloud data centre in Biere. The new platform will unite different IoT platforms from well-known providers and enable the comprehensive, device-independent use of IoT solutions. The House of IoT will begin with the Azure IoT Suite from Microsoft, followed by Cisco Fog and the IoT platform from Huawei.

Tele2 Group, Microsoft and Libelium have formed a JV wherein the three companies will deliver a complete IoT ‘plug and play’ developer starter kit, containing Libelium hardware, Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform and connectivity from Tele2. The IoT developer kit will make it easier for enterprises to start their IoT journey and deploy IoT projects much faster, Tele2 has claimed.

Elsewhere, Tele2 M2M Global Solutions will provide connectivity solutions to CSL DualCom and its customers within security, healthcare and general M2M applications across Europe. The contract runs for three years and will add tens of thousands of connected devices to CSL DualCom’s significant base.

Helsinki-based Digita plans to build a nationwide IoT network this autumn, covering 85% of the Finnish population, and around 95% of enterprises, the primary target group of the service. The network will utilise bi-directoral LoRa technology.

London is to host a LoRa network comprising 50 wide area network base stations, in what the UK government’s Digital Catapult incubator claims will be the country’s largest network using that technology. BT Group will be one of the companies involved in the ‘Things Connected’ project, which also includes Beecham Research, start-up incubators and researchers from universities across London. The LoRa network will come into play as the UK capital looks to build traffic and transport services, energy management and environmental sensors.

Finally, oneM2M, the global standards initiative for M2M communications and the IoT, has published a new landmark set of specifications, dubbed ‘Release 2’. Based on contributions from more than 200 member companies, Release 2 builds on oneM2M’s initial set of official specifications, which enable basic connectivity between applications and devices. The new specifications open up the IoT ecosystem to devices that lack the protocol and enable interworking among systems using AllSeen Alliance’s AllJoyn, Open Connectivity Foundation’s OIC, and the Open Mobile Alliance’s Lightweight M2M (LWM2M). As a result, the number of devices that can seamlessly connect with one other in the IoT ecosystem is greatly expanded. Dr. Omar Elloumi, Chair of the oneM2M Technical Plenary (and IoT Standards Strategy Leader, Nokia CTO group), commented: ‘The standards published today mark a major milestone for the IoT, by providing the unique value proposition of a single interworking platform for all enabled devices. As IoT devices continue to saturate society, standardisation is key to achieving universally accepted specifications and protocols for true interoperability between IoT devices and applications.’

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