IoT Time: M2M/Internet of Things weekly digest

29 Nov 2017

T-Mobile Poland has announced the launch of its first NB-IoT-enabled base stations, located in Gorzow Wielkopolski, adding that it will deploy more live NB-IoT sites around Poland in the next few months, with mass deployment planned for 2018. Sister operator in the Deutsche Telekom group, T-Mobile Netherlands, is also developing its NB-IoT facilities, and this week it disclosed that business management systems provider Nedap and construction firm Dura Vermeer have begun an NB-IoT trial over its network for smart parking sensors.

DNA of Finland has reached 85% population coverage with its NB-IoT network, stretching across roughly half the territory of southern, central and western Finland, having launched its first pilot projects over the network in May this year (including measuring indoor air quality with retail chain Kesko). Jarkko Laari, Director of Radio Networks at DNA, said: ‘We are expanding the NB-IoT service area based on customer needs. Demand is increasing. The Internet of Things sets new kinds of challenges for the use of network resources, as the number of connected devices will multiply.’

Singaporean full-service operator StarHub has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nokia to co-develop and launch commercial IoT applications/services in areas including connected vehicles and buildings, aiming for commercial launches in Q1 2018. StarHub enterprise head Chong Yoke Sin said: ‘We will leverage Nokia’s IoT technology to help address urban challenges faced by our government and commercial customers. We also look forward to building viable business models on this nascent technology.’

New Zealand’s Spark has contracted French IoT solutions specialist Kerlink to support its nationwide LoRaWAN rollout. Spark’s LoRa network is already supporting agricultural and environmental applications, with the telco targeting further sectors including health, safety, transport, asset tracking and smart cities. Kerlink Asia Pacific sales director Arnaud Boulay said: ‘Spark already has created use cases that will demonstrate the LoRaWAN network’s energy-efficient, geolocation connectivity that is well suited for both the wide-open spaces and urban centres of New Zealand.’ Kerlink’s LoRa stations operate in the 923MHz industrial/scientific/medical (ISM) radio band in New Zealand. Note that Spark is also currently trialling Cat-M1 (LTE-M) IoT technology across its 4G network, ahead of commercial launch in early 2018.

Kerlink is also busy in the Middle East, partnering Lebanon’s state-backed telco Ogero and ICT provider Libatel in the first IoT LoRaWAN smart-agriculture project in Lebanon, monitoring growing conditions at one of the country’s most famous vineyards, Domain Chateau Kefraya, reports IoTBusinessNews. The customised LoRaWAN network deployment, which includes Kerlink Wirnet Station technology, is a proof-of-concept project, forming part of Libatel’s bid to support Ogero’s deployment of a nationwide IoT network in Lebanon, where agriculture is the third-largest economic sector.

ZTE and China Mobile have demonstrated 5G, IoT, smart home, smart education and big video services at the China Mobile Global Partners Conference 2017, including a ‘5G autonomous submarine’ showcase, with applications simulated via VR showing potential for marine animal research, underwater scientific investigations, remote monitoring/prevention of oil pipeline leakages by subsea vehicles, and other industrial control, rescue and disaster relief scenarios.

Back on dry land, but remaining in the 5G near-future, Japan’s SoftBank has announced a 5G smart service robot project with Huawei Wireless X Labs, aiming to develop ‘Cube’ and ‘Kibako’ autonomous robots in 2018 to care for elderly, infirm or vulnerable clients (and potentially anyone who just always really wanted a robot butler). The cooperation between SoftBank and Huawei aims to enhance the intelligence and usefulness of service robots via cloud AI supported by 5G connectivity.

One generation behind – although no less important – Ukrainian cellco Lifecell has showcased the potential of 4G LTE services with Ericsson including ‘massive IoT deployments’ based on 3GPP standards. Ukraine is finally set to issue its first LTE operating licences in Q1 2018, and the main mobile players including Lifecell have promised to introduce 4G commercially within a few short months. A press release highlighted Ericsson’s Jonas Naslund saying: ‘NB-IoT and Cat-M1 are two significant additions with LTE that enable a massive IoT. These standards enable cost attractive IoT devices with low power consumption (up to ten years without battery replacement), and extended coverage. This means that IoT devices can remain online even in remote areas or in deep cellars where mobile broadband has typically been unavailable.’ Tetiana Skrychevska, Lifecell B2B Marketing Manager, added: ‘The number of enterprise customers in the Lifecell network is growing twice as fast as other categories of users, and we expect that with the arrival of LTE we will grow in the corporate sector even faster.’

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