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IoT @ MWC 2017 Day Two: Smart Cities, Connected Factories, and Development Labs

by Matt Wilkins | Feb 28, 2017

Day Two of Mobile World Congress 2017 kicked off with announcements covering Smart Cities, AT&T and China Mobile, NB-IoT Connected Factories, and RPMA in the Middle East.

AT&T, Current, and GE announced they have entered into an exclusive agreement to connect cities across the U.S. and Mexico to the Internet of Things. AT&T will become the exclusive reseller of Current’s intelligent sensor nodes in the U.S. and Mexico. Using GE’s Predix IoT platform, through the use of outdoor LED lighting, AT&T (with its Smart Cities framework) will be able to create a digital infrastructure looking to address traffic flow issues, parking optimization, gunshot detection, air quality monitoring and weather emergency alerts.

AT&T also announced that it will be working with China Mobile in the creation of a new technology platform which will simplify the process for AT&T business customers expanding into China, as they look to connect and deploy their assets and offerings in the Chinese market. It will be done by allowing a business customer’s AT&T IoT subscription to be moved to China Mobile’s local service. The aim of which being to simplify the supply chain for AT&T customers looking to expand into China, by accelerating speed to market and efficiencies in driving new revenue streams.

Altair announced that its CAT-1 chipset will be used by Geotab (a provider of open IoT fleet management solutions) for the next generation of GPS vehicle tracking devices running on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. AT&T highlighted the low cost and power efficiency of the Altair chipset as being key features for a number of IoT applications. Altair also announced that its ALT1160 CAT-1 LTE for IoT chipset has been certified to run on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network. Strategy Analytics views Automotive as a key vertical market for cellular IoT modules going forward, more details of which can be found in our recently published report IoT Cellular Device Annual Sales by Industry Vertical, available to clients. 

Ericsson and China Mobile announced outcomes from an ongoing trial of a connected factory in Nanjing, China. The trial, in conjunction with Intel, used a variety of smart tools (such as high precision screwdrivers) with motion sensors attached to NB-IoT modules that transmit real-time data to the Cellular IoT network. Through the use of smart tools, the factory will be able to replace the manual and paper-based tracking of tool activities - which in turn drive calibrations and lubrication processes – with an automated process that also includes analysis of collected data. Ericsson stated that the benefits of the connected solution will include longer lifespan of tools and a reduction of human error during operations. Other LPWA use cases employed in the connected factory trial include production line monitoring, warehouse monitoring and package and materials tracking. There are great synergies to be had between manufacturing and IoT, as manufacturing operations reply heavily on optimized processes and efficient processes to reduce downtime.

Connected Screwdrivers

Connected Screwdrivers
Source: Ericsson

Ingenu announced that in conjunction with MEC Telematik, it has begun rolling out an RPMA-based network for IoT across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. Ingenu stated that when launched, the Middle East network will be the world’s largest multi-country M2M/IoT network, which will serve countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Jordan. Ingenu highlighted use cases that the network will be well placed to serve as including asset tracking, logistics, environmental monitoring, and smart cities. MEC Telematik will undertake the build-out of the network, which will be completed by the end of 2017. It is easy to see the relevance of the use cases highlighted by Ingenu, considering the great distances and extreme heat in the region. IoT solutions that can reduce the effects of those factors will surely provide value for organisations conducting business in the region.

Orange announced it will progressively deploy LTE-M technology on its 4G networks in Europe in 2017, beginning with Belgium and Spain, and then in the remainder of the companies European country markets. Orange believes LTE-M offers support for a broad range of uses and IoT devices, highlighting smart meters, asset monitoring, vending machines, alarm systems, vehicle fleets, heavy equipment, through to mHealth and wearable devices. Orange also announced new LTE-M trials in 2017, which will include smart meters and wearables; Orange will work with a roster of partners for the trials including Altair, Qualcomm, Sequans, as well as a number of network equipment vendors.

To help foster the development of the mobile IoT ecosystem, Orange announced the creation of the Open IoT Lab, which will be launched under the GSMA Mobile IoT initiative. Located in Chatillon, France, at Orange’s innovation campus, the lab will open in April 2017, and is designed to support partners looking to accelerate the development of LTE-M devices. The Lab will feature IoT starter kits, network equipment for use in performance, coverage, and optimisation testing, along with analytics platforms. A variety of Orange experts across technology and marketing disciplines, with expertise in smart cities, automotive, transportation, manufacturing, healthcare and smart home verticals will be on-site. 

As we conducted meetings with companies in the IoT space, we had interesting discussions with Gisecke and Devrient (products and solutions for payment, secure communications, and identity management), where we saw their partnership with PTC concerning security, including certificate management and secure authentication.

The MWC Show Floor

The MWC 2017 Show Floor

Source: Strategy Analytics

We saw real-world case studies from Gisecke and Devrient including LoRa in-helmet modules for Brazilian miners capable of detecting problems like a fall or lack of movement. In the mining case study, we learned the LoRa module will operate 8 miles underground with one base station, where the costs of adding additional base studies are very low. We also met with Cisco Jasper and discussed their platform growth, along with their plans to more than double their connection installed base of 17 million.

To show that IoT is not all about profitability and revenue, the Sigfox Foundation announced it had partnered with three international conservation organisations for GPS tracking solutions for the endangered rhinoceros in Southern Africa. The Sigfox LPWA-based solution was deployed across the nature reserve in just four days, and allows for automated downloading of GPS position data at specified intervals without the need for human intervention, representing a key advantage over traditional VHF radio tracking. Aside from the emotive issue at the heart of the announcement, this is a great example of how IoT can replace existing manually-intensive operations to provide a superior and automated service over considerable distances.

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

For the Mobile Workforce @ MWC 2017 blog, please click here.

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