IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

18 Oct 2017

Telecom Italia (TIM) has announced that it is launching commercial NB-IoT services at the end of this month, claiming an Italian first. The technology will incorporate 75% of its 4G LTE network and 5,000 municipalities, while it aims for complete network coverage – at least 97% of the population – by January 2018. Smart metering will be amongst the first NB-IoT services available to industry customers (having been operated on a trial basis since April). TIM also highlighted that its NB-IoT Open Lab, opened last November, to date has involved 110 companies with 39 active collaborations, of which twelve validation activities have already been completed.

TIM’s rival Vodafone Italy gave a press statement disclosing plans to invest over EUR10 million (USD11.8 million) in its NB-IoT rollout, beginning this month with major municipalities in southern/central Italian regions and, from January 2018, continuing expansion in main cities of southern Italy, with the goal of covering the entire national territory by March 2019 (across its entire 4G LTE network which currently exceeds 97% population coverage). Vodafone Italy highlights a list of NB-IoT use cases, including smart metering/utilities, smart city functions (e.g. waste disposal/collection, parking) plus applications in the fields of environmental and structural monitoring, and agriculture.

Sri Lankan operator Dialog Axiata has claimed South Asia’s first launch of a NB-IoT-enabled network, which it says has been activated on its 4G LTE network island-wide through a software upgrade on existing base stations, allowing consumers as well as industry to utilise the benefits of IoT. The cellco stated that NB-IoT technology will enhance the functionality of its ‘Dialog Smartlife’ digital lifestyle application launched in July, supporting IoT solutions such as Connected Home and Car Connect. Dialog’s CTO Pradeep De Almeida said: ‘Users are increasingly aligning to IoT-enabled devices with services ranging in areas of Health, Home Security and Home Automation. The network will amplify opportunity for solutions such as Smart Metering for utilities, Smart Parking systems, Smart Garbage collection, logistic solutions as well as other applications in agriculture and farming.’ Dialog cited key features of NB-IoT including longer device battery life, unified coverage, secure connectivity, high reliability and easy deployment into existing cellular network architecture.

Belarusian cellco velcom has obtained state permission for the launch of Belarus’ first commercial NB-IoT network, reports local news site BelTA. The State Commission on Radio Frequencies has authorised velcom to use part of its existing 900MHz mobile frequency allocation for NB-IoT. The new network is open for developers of IoT applications aimed at businesses or consumers, and velcom says it aims for cooperation with innovative companies in the implementation and development of future technologies, adding that it plans to develop NB-IoT as an integral ecosystem with a single platform to receive and monitor data from every smart device connected to its network.

French LoRaWAN IoT network solutions provider Actility is deploying its ThingPark platform in Russia for corporate broadband operator Prestige Internet (Enforta), a wholly-owned subsidiary of ER-Telecom, ComNews reports. Actility will manage the in-deployment federal LoRaWAN network, which will initially serve corporate clients in the oil, gas, mining and logistics sectors. Actility representative Yevgeny Luppov told the newspaper that radio network planning and preparations for the ThingPark platform deployment are under way. As previously reported, ER-Telecom/Enforta is aiming for an IoT network covering 60 cities in 2018-2019, with 1,000 base stations expected to be deployed by end-2017.

Indian state-owned network operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the areas of 5G and IoT with China’s ZTE. A press release reads: ‘With 4G becoming more mature in India, and penetration of smart phones and bandwidth surging, operators are stepping up to 5G trial in an attempt to build an IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) centric 5G ecosystem … [to] accelerate digital transformation of E-governance, education, finance, smart city and many other industries, to realise IoT and comprehensive automation. BSNL and ZTE agreed to jointly evaluate and verify key technologies such as Pre5G, 5G wireless systems, virtualised network architectures, as well as the construction of 5G ecosystems, for the purpose of research and commercialisation in India.’

Vodafone India is also ramping up its IoT efforts, its director of technology Vishant Vora told the Economic Times, stating: ‘Telecom has in the past been treated as a separate vertical. Now, with the Internet of Things and all other trends, we are going to become horizontal. That means we are going to be essential in any of the industries that you can think of … we are also very intently working on creating an IoT vision.’ The Vodafone executive went on to say that Indian society will be transformed with the advent of IoT, faster mobile connectivity, cloud services and smart networks, whilst he underlined crucial concerns about network security. ‘We are right in the middle of the transformation. To connect all kinds of devices places a very different emphasis and burden upon us as an industry and the company. That is to make sure that we are providing the most robust and secure services to our consumers as well as our enterprise clients,’ Vora said.

Cisco has launched its first smart city pilot in Hong Kong, under the ‘Digital Living Lab’ banner, supported by the US tech group’s Cisco Kinetic IoT platform. Cisco has set up a LoRaWAN gateway with Hong Kong Science & Technology Park (HKSTP) for demonstrating and developing new IoT applications, with other partners including Pixel Networks, Avnet, Smart City Consortium (SCC) and Technology Incubation Network (TIN), in conjunction with a ‘Smart Region’ initiative led by HKSTP and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

In Indonesia, Indosat Ooredoo is stepping up efforts to explore IoT vertical markets, with a current focus on B2B solutions in public utilities, industry, retail, smart city and financial sectors. In an interview with Digitimes, Indosat’s IoT executive team noted that the operator is adopting LoRaWAN as its initial low power wide area (LPWA) IoT technology, but will consider the use of NB-IoT technology ‘at an opportune time’. Indosat also disclosed that it opted for LoRaWAN over rival unlicensed spectrum LPWA platform SigFox as it deemed LoRa to be comparatively more mature with a larger ecosystem. The IoT team also indicated that the Indosat Ooredoo IoT platform will be ‘officially launched’ in 2018, whilst adding that the government was expected to release additional bandwidth for IoT use ‘by the end of 2017’. In the utility sector, Indosat Ooredoo is aiming to complete a smart water meter test by the end of the year, whilst in the retail sector it disclosed an upcoming partnership with Taiwanese company Gorilla Technology on smart retail solutions including a surveillance/monitoring system.

Finally, the Netherlands’ lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, has adopted a motion supporting the introduction of government ‘hack tests’ to ensure the security of connected devices, reports Dutch-based Telecompaper. Presenting the resolution, Socialist MP Maarten Hijink called on the government to work with businesses and industry to make IoT devices safer via greater testing for security vulnerabilities.

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