IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly update

4 May 2017

Ericsson has been selected by Japanese network operator SoftBank as the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) supplier for Cat-M1 and NB-IoT networks, which SoftBank plans to deploy nationwide, aiming to be first to market with new-generation commercial cellular IoT services. Ericsson will deliver Cat-M1 support as a software upgrade to SoftBank’s existing EPC, and NB-IoT using Ericsson virtual EPC and Cloud Execution Environment solutions. Combined with its existing comprehensive LTE network coverage, SoftBank says it will deploy a range of IoT services in smart cities, logistics, utilities, medicine, transport, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and many other areas.

Vodafone Czech Republic has claimed a national first with its deployment of NB-IoT technology on its commercial mobile network using the 800MHz frequency band in Prague, initially for pilot services with selected customers. This month Vodafone is inviting applications for other users wishing to test NB-IoT, whilst nationwide commercial NB-IoT coverage is planned for the autumn, after NB-IoT modules become available in the Czech Republic for electronic component manufacturers and distributors of IoT devices.

South African Sigfox-based IoT network operator SqwidNet has reached 38% national population coverage since its launch in November 2016, and will hit 85% within a year, the company announced. The SqwidNet Sigfox footprint currently serves eight metropolitan areas, namely the City of Johannesburg, the City of Cape Town, Buffalo City, Nelson Mandela Bay, eThekwini (including Durban), Mangaung, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, and is being expanded to cover all national roads, to support SqwidNet’s focus on providing solutions to utilities, transport and logistics, security, supply chain and retail services sectors. Reshaad Sha, CEO of SqwidNet, said: ‘IoT applications will reshape business processes and operating models, and have the potential to reduce business risk. We are deploying a network that makes it possible for any industry to connect things, create value, and ultimately enable innovation.’

Telstra has opened what it claims is Australia’s first publicly-accessible GSMA Open IoT Lab. ‘Telstra Labs’ in Melbourne is aimed at growing the IoT ecosystem, open to multinationals, start-ups, academics and students to utilise Telstra’s Cat-M1 and NB-IoT lab networks, software and hardware technology, and expertise to create, test and prototype IoT solutions.

Huawei and Toshiba have signed an agreement to collaborate on the integration of NB-IoT for the development of smart factory solutions, aimed at accelerating the commercial availability of NB-IoT in a diverse range of vertical industries. Edward Deng, President of Huawei Wireless Solutions, said: ‘The current number of NB-IoT deployments has reached 30 worldwide, with more soon to follow. NB-IoT has received a great deal of attention particularly from vertical industries since its initial deployments, and has already been applied successfully in roughly 20 different industry categories. The cooperation between Huawei and Toshiba represents the first NB-IoT application of its kind in the smart factory space.’ Huawei predicts that the number of IoT connections in smart factories could reach 100 million by 2020.

Dubai-based RPMAnetworks and MCT China have formed a partnership aimed at developing and delivering new integrated IoT products and services for the global market, utilising Ingenu RPMA (Random Phase Multiple Access) technology. Fred Wohl, CEO of RPMAnetworks, said: ‘This is an exciting time for the UAE and the entire Middle East region as a whole as we adopt the RPMA technology as the foundation for better public safety and security, transportation, buildings, utilities, healthcare and education.’ Michael Zhou, CEO of MCT China, said: ‘The rollout of RPMA in China has already established a proven track record for all aspects of IoT innovation and realisation, and we expect to mirror this success in advancing the IoT industry globally.’ MCT is the exclusive licensee for RPMA network technology in China.

South Korean network operator SK Telecom (SKT) says it will launch ‘up to 50’ IoT-based services and products by the end of this year. SKT’s latest IoT devices include: ‘Keyco’, a keychain for pets with embedded GPS and emergency alarm features, monitored/controlled via smartphone; ‘Smart TocToc’ remote monitoring vehicle device; and ‘IoT Blackbox’ – another remote vehicle monitoring solution using a combination of video, audio and GPS.

Brazil’s telecoms regulator Anatel expects to present its IoT proposals for public consultation in the first half of 2018, following the launch of the government’s National ICT Plan which is expected by the end of this year, Teletime reports. According to Anatel’s Nilo Pasquali, the intention of the proposal is to reduce barriers to the development of the IoT ecosystem, whilst also consulting on necessary changes in legislation. Various issues being studied by the regulator include international IoT roaming, taxation and spectrum allocations e.g. for LTE-M and NB-IoT networks.

Bahraini operator Batelco has partnered IoT hardware accelerator Brinc to launch the Brinc-Batelco IoT Hub, offering programmes and services to IoT hardware start-ups and entrepreneurs in Bahrain.

Finally, Telit has joined the LoRa Alliance, and says it will collaborate to enhance the LoRaWAN protocol by sharing knowledge and experience with the aim of guaranteeing interoperability among operators under open, global standards. The news came as Telit released a LoRaWAN protocol, Bluetooth low energy (BLE) IoT combo module, suited for public or private networks, smart metering, remote sensing, industrial automation/monitoring and control, alarm/security systems, agriculture, asset tracking, street lighting and smart city applications; the ‘RE866’ module is pin compatible with the ‘NE866’ NB-IoT (LTE Cat NB1) module, allowing customers to move from a licensed to unlicensed spectrum standard.

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