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IoT @ MWC 2017 Day One: NB-IoT Trials, LoRa Roaming, and Security Worries

by Gina Luk | Feb 27, 2017

As the 2017 Mobile World Congress event kicked off in Barcelona, Spain, IoT announcements soon came through. Ranging from more field trials for NB-IoT, support for device roaming on LoRa networks, RPMA spanning 29 countries, edge analytics, security of IoT devices, and more.

As we predicted in our 2017 MWC IoT Preview Insight, successful narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) trials were heralded, such as that involving wireless module supplier uBlox and gas infrastructure supplier Petro Fiorentini. During the trial, which was held in conjunction with two Spanish gas distribution companies, the test successfully demonstrated the end-to-end capability of the system, from smart gas meters through to the integration of the data into the meter data management and control platform. The trial further serves to illustrate how the Utilities vertical market is looking to leverage IoT to serve hard to reach environments, along with battery-powered solutions for long life in the field.

In other NB-IoT rollout news, Deutsche Telekom announced it will commercially launch NB-IoT in Germany in Q2 2017, followed by the Netherlands in 2017, and will expand existing NB-IoT coverage across more cities in Austria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia in 2017.

The MWC 2017 Show Floor

MWC 2017 Show Floor
Source: Strategy Analytics

The LoRa Alliance announced widespread support for device roaming on LoRa networks, whereby IoT devices can communicate across multiple operator LPWA networks, supported by operators and network software vendors including Orange, Objenious, KPN, Everynet, and Proximus. Roaming for LoRa IoT devices allows expansion of LoRa coverage across borders and regions, but perhaps more importantly for the growth of the technology, expansion of LoRa use cases for IoT devices. For example, asset tracking in the Transportation vertical, where assets can cross multiple countries in the journey from supplier to end user.

The theme of expansion was also present in the Ingenu announcement  that it has expanded its RPMA (random phase multiple access) network to provide IoT connectivity in six continents and 29 countries, including Japan, U.S, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Brazil. The company continues to build on its licensing strategy, now up to licensees in 29 countries, from the 25 it announced at MWC 2016. At MWC 2016 executives from the company noted that they would eschew pursuing partners in Europe due to it being too heavily regulated and saturated, however in its announcement today the company revealed it has signed European licensees in Italy and Portugal.

Telstra, Sierra Wireless, Landis+Gyr, and Altair announced that localised trials are underway of a Cat-M1 IoT network in Australia. The trial follows Telstra’s completed deployment of network software nationally in Australia, upon which Sierra Wireless AirPrime modules (based on the Altair ALT-1210 LTE platform) will be the first Cat-M1 device deployed on the Telstra network. Landis+Gyr will supply the Cat-M1 smart meters to be trialled. Future devices connecting to the network will include new and existing IoT solutions and services including wearables, water meters, agri-sensors, smart appliances, asset monitoring, industrial automation, and other devices. Again we see how IoT is providing opportunities for the Utilities vertical market, which aside from air interface, coverage or performance, is well served in applications such as smart meters, by low power consumption and long battery life.

Dell announced the Edge Gateway 3000 Series, allowing IoT assets to be connected the network, where data can be sent to the data centre, or analysed at the edge for real-time intelligence. The 3000 Series targets industrial, energy, transportation, and digital signage markets, and comes equipped with GPS, accelerometers, and atmospheric pressure sensors. It will be available in summer 2017 and starts at US$399. For some IoT deployments, sending data back to the data centre is expensive and can delay the ability to react to the data. Edge (or fog) analytics capability such as that offered by the Edge Gateway 3000 Series, fits into use cases where real-time intelligence from IoT data is required, and can be critical for the smooth running of the business.

To underline the ongoing challenge of security in IoT devices, security software company Avast, announced the completion of an experiment, revealing that as of today in Barcelona, almost 500,000 unprotected IP connected exist devices in the city. With devices ranging from smart kettles, garage doors, to webcams (and over 20,000 webcams at that). Avast stated the problem was that the devices could be used by snoopers to stream video onto the internet, or turn the device into a bot for use in malicious attacks. Avast highlighted that such devices use the Telnet protocol, which was abused in the creation of the Mirai botnet, used to attack Dyn in 2016, which had significant consequences for popular websites such as Twitter and Amazon. Strategy Analytics views security as an ongoing concern for IoT, which must be addressed not as a bolt-on after the fact, but in the design and planning stage of the IoT deployment. Think twice when you look directly into that webcam at MWC…

Be sure to check back here tomorrow for more highlights from the Strategy Analytics IoT Team at Mobile World Congress 2017.

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