IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

2 Nov 2017

Vodacom South Africa has announced the commercial launch of its NB-IoT network, initially available in Gauteng. Earlier this year, Vodacom – part of the Vodafone Group – opened a laboratory to facilitate the development of NB-IoT applications, and has been working with various partners and customers to test the technology at the lab. Now, developers, partners and customers are able to build, launch and use commercial Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) solutions based on Vodacom’s NB-IoT ecosystem. Deon Liebenberg, Managing Executive for the Internet of Things at Vodacom, said: ‘Vodacom is the first South African mobile network provider to announce the commercial availability of NB-IoT. We are ready to on-board customers, partners and developers who are in a position to deploy NB-IoT projects.’ In September, Vodacom announced that it already connects over three million M2M/IoT ‘things’ or devices, and the commercial rollout of NB-IoT is expected to accelerate IoT adoption rates, with Vodacom currently averaging 55 000 new IoT connections per month.

Telia Finland has announced its first live network tests of NB-IoT (LTE Cat-NB1) and LTE-M (LTE Cat-M1) technologies, and indicated a full commercial launch is ‘a few months’ away. Using its Nokia-equipped commercial LTE network in Vallila, the tests involved data transfers with NB-IoT (at up to 250kbps) and LTE-M (at up to 1Mbps). NB-IoT network simulation environment/testing software from Keysight was used, alongside an iProtoXi sensor solution. A Telia company statement said: ‘It is now possible to connect ultra-small sensors directly to the mobile network. It is easy to set up and the sensors can be placed in extremely challenging locations, such as building structures, whereby building moisture values can be measured throughout the life cycle … With these successes, we will be able to build new solutions for our customers within a few months.’ Telia Finland also announced the launch of its ‘5G Finland’ network piloting project at the Telia Digitalist IoT Forum event in Helsinki. The first partners in the project are Nokia and the Finnish Innovation Funding Agency (Tekes), and Telia is inviting all Finnish companies to jointly create and pilot applications and services. Tekes representative Mika Klemettinen said that the 5G Finland programme would ‘utilise domestic companies in the next step towards 5G and gain international competitive advantage through experimentation in pre-commercial environments’.

Vodafone Ireland has partnered Dublin City Council in launching a NB-IoT network in the capital’s Docklands Smart District, as part of the Smart Dublin programme. Flood monitoring and response systems are being deployed on the NB-IoT network, utilising sensors from Voguetek. Vodafone and the City Council have also launched a EUR50,000 (USD58,000) innovation fund for start-ups to develop Proof of Concept projects over Vodafone’s national NB-IoT network; the fund is being managed by Smart Dublin and Dublin City University’s R&D unit, DCU Alpha.

South Africa’s Vox Telecom has partnered with Sigfox-based IoT network provider SqwidNet to develop IoT applications. SqwidNet is currently expanding its LPWA network under a plan to offer nationwide IoT coverage by 2018.

Netherlands-based mobile data connectivity provider Mondicon has launched a cloud-based IoT platform named CheerIoT, enabling customers to monitor, manage and secure all their M2M/IoT SIM cards in real time. Mondicon says it currently connects consumers, organisations and things with the internet in 192 countries on 728 networks.

Moroccan full-service operator Maroc Telecom has launched an integrated intelligent vehicle management package under the ‘Smart Car’ banner, incorporating an on-board diagnostics (OBD) dongle device and a cloud-based management platform accessible via web portal or smartphone app, providing connected-vehicle functions such as remote fleet management and remote vehicle locating in real time, with various driving indicators viewable e.g. fuel consumption, departure and arrival locations/times, distances travelled, itineraries, average/maximum speeds, etc.

Also out on the roads, Qatar-based Ooredoo has partnered Bright Box for expanding Middle Eastern smart connected vehicle solutions. Ooredoo is providing the mobile network infrastructure and IoT services to enable the Bright Box ‘Remoto’ Connected Car services in Qatar and the region.

Finally, Telenor Pakistan has deployed the Telenor Connexion IoT platform provided by its multinational group sister company, which will now be made available to the IoT ecosystem of partner companies and start-ups in Pakistan. Telenor highlighted examples of M2M/IoT applications in Pakistan including OBD devices for fleet management and other vehicular IoT services integrated with insurance products aimed at reducing large numbers of motorcycle thefts, and connected home devices including solar-powered systems for rural households outside of the electricity power grid.

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