IoT Catch-up: M2M/Internet of Things developments

12 Apr 2017

Thailand’s National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has proposed using the vacant 920MHz-925MHz band for unlicensed IoT access, as part of its spectrum roadmap which will be finalised in June, according to the regulator’s vice-chairman Settapong Malisuwan, as quoted by the Bangkok Post. The paper notes that the 920MHz-925MHz band is widely used by enterprises for retail business and security purposes through Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. Thailand’s largest cellco by users Advanced Info Service (AIS) began developing IoT services using the NB-IoT standard early this year, according to its chief marketing officer, Pratthana Leelapanang. Rival operator DTAC has meanwhile rolled out a one-year IoT ‘smart farm’ pilot, noted DTAC’s head of corporate communications Onuma Rerkpattanapipat. Thailand’s third mobile main player True Corp is preparing to test its own IoT network solution at parent CP Group’s 7-Eleven stores and in agricultural processes in partnership with other parent group divisions; True also has an innovation lab for IoT development in Pathum Thani province in partnership with Huawei.

Note that Thailand is following other countries which have already earmarked the 920MHz-925MHz range as a licence-exempt IoT band, including Taiwan, where last month the National Communications Commission (NCC) announced that it planned to approve this band as a ‘non-telecommunications grade’ IoT band.

In other Asian developments, China Telecom has picked a mobile IoT test platform from Keysight Technologies to accelerate its NB-IoT chipset/module certification process. Keysight claims that its E7515A UXM solution is the only all-in-one test platform able to support China Telecom’s NB-IoT RF conformance test and power consumption verification. Elsewhere in China, ZTE and China Mobile Guangdong announced China Mobile’s first successful NB-IoT field test in Guangzhou, including wireless, core network, terminals and applications. All devices were provided by ZTE, including ‘virtual CN, PaaS aspects, maturely commercialised 2T4R base stations on the wireless side, as well as terminals using a ZTE self-developed chip’. ZTE – which finished the world’s first proof-of-concept based on 3GPP NB-IoT standards with China Mobile in May 2016 – said that the large scale NB-IoT field networking test in Guangzhou ‘speeds up the construction of China Mobile’s public IoT network,’ adding that ‘a network featuring low cost, low consumption, wide coverage and high reliability will assist China Mobile fulfil its massive connections strategy and create a new pattern for digital industrialisation.’

In Japan, SoftBank Corp announced that it is developing an Embedded Subscriber Identity Module (eSIM) Platform to promote IoT solutions, with a launch planned this year. SoftBank explained: ‘When selling vehicles and other items embedded with M2M equipment to markets abroad, until now it was necessary to prepare dedicated SIM cards with the necessary profiles to connect to the respective communication networks of overseas carriers. With eSIMs integrated into IoT products and M2M equipment, and by using the eSIM Platform, corporate customers will be able to remotely provision eSIMs with the profiles required for connecting to various carrier networks. For tablets, wearables and other consumer devices equipped with eSIMs, the eSIM Platform will also enable the remote provisioning of pre-registered contract information and other types of information, in addition to the necessary profiles for network connection.’

Indonesian cellco Telkomsel has ordered 285,000 ‘T-Bike Smart Assistant’ vehicle device units from Malaysia’s M3 Technologies (Asia) for around USD12 million, with 10,000 units having shipped already. T-Bike is an M2M initiative that uses an implanted device housing a special SIM card with which vehicle owners can monitor, guide and control their vehicles directly from a smartphone. In Central Asia, meanwhile, Kazakhstan-based automotive firm Asia Auto has introduced connected car services: from this month onwards, every car released by the company will include M2M devices enabling users to manage car functions and data via a smartphone.

Down under, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Nokia have agreed to co-develop IoT-based business applications using high speed, low-latency technologies, IoTHub.com.au reported. ‘Rapido’, a unit established at the university to unlock IoT potential, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nokia, potentially leading to proof-of-concept development. Nokia and UTS will establish an innovation and training facility, where the Finnish tech giant will provide IP routing, optical, fixed and 4G/5G mobile network components, plus applications and analytics platforms for project work and training. Nokia’s head of Oceania, Ray Owen added: ‘Through this collaboration with UTS we can share both our expertise and our technologies, and help drive Australia’s digital transformation. In turn, we will benefit from gaining even greater insight into how IoT can be applied to solve the real-world issues of our customers.’ UTS previously partnered with local IoT network operator Thinxtra, which provided the university with free access to its Sigfox network as part of the Smart University Partnership Programme. Local tech company Meshed also launched its Sydney CBD LoRaWAN network in partnership with UTS, The Things Network and IoT Alliance Australia, enabling students and businesses to develop IoT solutions.

US giant AT&T has announced recent enhancements to its Partner Exchange system including enablement tools to accelerate solution providers’ projects, featuring new Application Programming Interface (API) capabilities, Ethernet offer enhancements and self-service support tools which it says help businesses extend reach and improve operations. One of the aims of the AT&T Partner Exchange is to help companies better discover the Internet of Things, providing resources to make it easier for solution providers to ‘navigate the possibilities of IoT’ with their clients.

Hungarian operator Magyar Telekom, in cooperation with Ericsson, has launched a competition to generate NB-IoT project applications in fields including transport, event-oriented solutions, home environment and logistics. The telco is inviting proposal submissions from developers, engineers, economists, start-ups, established companies and students until 5 June.

Bosnian operator HT Eronet has presented its under-development Smart Home and agricultural sector IoT services at Mostar’s International Economy Fair, whilst it is giving trial/pilot access to the new services in their current phase.

Greek cellco Cosmote has launched a smart city pilot in partnership with the Municipality of Patras, Huawei and others – its second such pilot scheme following Its Halkida smart city project launch in cooperation with Cisco in late 2016. Cosmote is testing smart parking and smart lighting in Patras city centre based on NB-IoT technology, using Huawei networking equipment, OTS’s Smart Parking application, Kafkas’s LED lighting systems and Flashnet’s Smart Lighting sensors.

We welcome your feedback about the IoT Catch-up. If you have any questions, suggestions or corrections, please email editors@commsupdate.com.

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