The connectivity space in IoT is in an exciting place right now. Many new protocols are being rolled out and sliced off, from Zigbee to CBRS, while some of the oldest and most used technologies of the past are hitting sunset.
In a particularly salient to the moment example, the big three US cellular providers: ATT, T-Mobile, and Verizon, plan to close their 3G networks within the next 18 months. T-Mobile will be first out of the gate, reportedly canceling its CDMA 3G network near January 1, 2022, and its UMTS 3G network in April 2022, six months later than initially scheduled. ATT says it will have 3G shut down in February, and Verizon will hold on longest, setting its sights on December for full sunset. The 2G and 4G networks are still going to be around for quite some time.
Regardless of the timeline, these (and many of the other global cellular providers) have credited the rise of 5G and their own 5G connectivity network buildouts for this decision.
The rollout of 5G seems to be inevitable now, and that is likely a good thing, not just for consumers looking to stream all that tasty high-def Vimeo content with no buffering. IoT providers are champing at the bit to provide all the benefits and none of the downsides to every end-user from Retail and Smart Building managers to Industrial IoT (IIoT) and Supply Chain enterprises.
There are plenty of skeptics out there that don’t think we need 5G yet, aren’t sure about the economies and costs involved in the infrastructure builds and bandwidth use, and plain think it’s only valid in minimal cases, if at all.
They’ll come along or be left behind; it seems because the avalanche of global 5G installation and initiatives is only gaining momentum.
Let’s look at some of the most recently announced 5G connectivity expansions and installations, shall we? (Note: this is not an exhaustive list.)
According to recent reporting, Spain is ready to award spectrum in the 26 GHz band, which is the last band for an assignation, and it will be expressly for the provision of 5G. According to a recent announcement from Roberto Sánchez, Spain’s Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Intelligent Infrastructures, it looks like those awards will happen between now and the beginning of 2022.
In July of this year, Telefónica, Vodafone, and Orange gobbled up the 700 MHz from the Spanish government for a total of $1.3 billion. The government also confirmed that each license would have 20 years, rising to a maximum of 40 years.
Telefônica isn’t stopping in Spain, either. Enterprise IoT Insights recently reported that Telefônica’s rollout of 5G in Brazil starts in October, and all the country’s national carriers have been mandated to start 5G work within 12 months. Vivo, the Telefônica Brazil brand, reportedly is investing billions every year in technology and innovation projects to drive 5G and artificial intelligence.
Telstra recently announced that it would widely deploy Ericsson’s cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core across Australia. The goal was to support its ambition to address the increasing digitalization of enterprises, industries, and an emerging B2B2X segment. The company is launching 5G standalone (SA), using a single software platform to manage the EPC and the new 5GC network functions (NFs).
Also, in Australia, Microsoft and Nokia recently signed an agreement with South Australia’s Department for Trade and Investment to explore the combination of 5G connectivity at the edge and satellite connectivity to support digital transformation and IoT solutions. Microsoft’s Azure Space team, South Australian development site Lot Fourteen, the Australian Institute for Machine Learning on space emulation innovation, and Stone & Chalk reportedly have joined forces to support space startup businesses and innovation. Nokia will also expand its existing Adelaide-based 5G field force with a 5G engineering resource to co-develop use cases with the Microsoft Azure Space team and South Australian industry.
According to announcements, the National Policy on 5G networks for Nigeria’s digital economy has been approved by Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council, which will take immediate effect. The Nigerian National Frequency Management Council will soon release spectrum to the Nigerian Communications Commission for Mobile Network Operators, and the rollout is expected to happen immediately. Ahead of the approval, the commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the release of contiguous C-band spectrum for early deployment of 5G networks in Nigeria.
In an interesting case, India is very cautious about 5G deployment nationally. Fierce Wireless recently reported that the Indian government has handed out the 5G spectrum for only six months for interested parties to carry out trials. The plan was to help the country’s telecom providers to prepare their networks for 5G and develop India-specific 5G use cases. According to analysts, these trials are underway already, but the launch of 5G itself is at least a year away, if not more. Indian telecoms Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are testing 5G Non-Standalone (NSA), and Reliance Jio is looking at 5G Standalone (SA). Airtel has trialed 5G in the 1800 Mhz frequency band.
The Indian government has not announced an auction scheduled for the 5G connectivity spectrum yet. Reports indicate that it won’t occur until next year, which means we might not see deployments until late 2022 or even 2023. There is also the wrinkle of 5Gi, a substandard of 5G, having been approved by the Indian Ministry of Communications despite its expected higher cost of deployment and hardware needs. The government requested trials of 5Gi, but no one has announced plans for such a test yet.
Verizon is rolling out millimeter-wave (mmWave) in cities all over the US. According to the carrier, the latest is Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Athens, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and Fremont, California, bringing the total to 82 cities (at least in part). The company’s fixed 5G Home service is also expanding, now available in Orlando, Pensacola, Sarasota, Florida, Freeman, California, and New York’s Niagara Falls. That makes Verizon’s 5G Home service now available in parts of 57 cities.
Dish Network has requested a temporary license from the FCC to use 600 MHz spectrum band licenses owned by another licensee for 5G tests in Las Vegas and Denver. The company said it would test carrier aggregation in places where its licenses would be insufficient. The test will end no later than this year, and the spectrum will only be used for testing and not for commercial purposes.
There is a lot to cover with 5G connectivity growth, so look out for next week, when I’ll be digging into 5G Use Cases, both already in the field and expected soon.
Device management is an important issue that any IoT solution provider needs to address. The engineers have to make the right decisions when designing, implementing, and testing the device. The most important, perhaps, is whether to use tested and approved existing solutions or to do things by themselves from scratch. There are many approved, mature solutions that can make the device design process efficient, and the Lightweight M2M (LwM2M) protocol is one of those. With ready-to-use components provided by the LwM2M protocol, device designers can quickly switch their focus to creating functionalities that give material business value to their customers without having to spend time on building device management functionalities themselves.
Engineers can be quite skeptical of ready-to-use solutions, and they are often not their first choice. To challenge that mindset and convince them of the usability of the LwM2M protocol, we demonstrate the deep integration of Anjay LwM2M SDK and Coiote IoT Device Management platform, the two leading LwM2M device management solutions, with the ST development environment.
Watch this webinar to learn more about what we provide:
Integration of Anjay LwM2M SDK with CubeMX to quickly get the skeleton of an IoT application inside the ST development environment;
Ready-made open-source sample applications of Anjay LwM2M SDK on popular ST discovery boards;
Seamless integration for device-to-cloud communication with IoT services from AWS and Microsoft Azure.
Integration of Anjay LwM2M SDK with security components provided by ST in order to meet high security standards;
Access to the Coiote IoT Device Management testing platform in which you can perform rapid integration testing to see how your IoT application works with our cloud infrastructure;
Technological advances have had a dramatic impact on the way the world operates. All those miles of copper cables and telephone wires have given us the ability to chat to each other over landlines for generations, but not for much longer. Still, one of the biggest shake-ups on the horizon is the total switch-off of the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) in 2025.
Farewell to Analog Technology
Analog network technology is too expensive and difficult to maintain, and beyond that, it’s simply incompatible with the varied demands of modern communications. The future is in digital communication, with calls using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) being routed over fiber-optic lines, cellular connectivity such as 4G, or even increasingly using low power wide area networks (LPWAN).
The problem, however, is that this change doesn’t just impact traditional landlines making voice calls. Many non-voice services currently use the PSTN network, such as faxes, alarms, door entry, and elevators. A new, secure, reliable, and easily installed solution is needed for all of these adjacent technologies. With the switch-off date, looming companies need to take action now. What some might see as a logistical headache is an opportunity for companies to move from the currently fundamental technology to a far more efficient and reliable solution with enhanced performance.
Which Sectors are Going to be Most Affected by the PSTN Switch Off?
PSTN plays a crucial role in the utility sector and particularly the water industry by connecting remote outstations, communicating telemetry data, and providing monitoring systems. Water companies are now identifying which solution providers can deliver the best value and innovative solutions for their future site communication needs. Switching away from PSTN requires a significant capital investment. They understandably want to maximize their return by gaining new capabilities such as detailed analytics through cloud applications while meeting their future regulatory objectives.
The legislation mandates that every lift in the U.K. and Europe has to have some form of emergency communications line in the elevator industry. Historically these S.O.S. voice calls were made via cables connected to the PSTN, but any lift systems still using this legacy technology must deploy an alternative communication method by 2025.
Cellular Connectivity is the Best Solution
Cellular connectivity is the simplest, easiest, and fastest solution to deploy to these elevators, offering reliable, always-on connectivity for emergency communication from the lifts 24/7 through roaming or dual SIM solutions.
Companies are also more commonly installing CCTV cameras in their lifts to monitor real-time events such as medical emergencies or assaults. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), companies can access two-way data transmissions directly through an encrypted 4G connection for secure remote monitoring, an added benefit of the change.
The infrastructure can also be monitored and maintained over the network even in remote locations, reducing the number of on-site lift maintenance checks and saving money on expensive engineers, equipment, and transport.
One Step Further with LTE-M Rollout
In the future, emerging cellular technologies like LTE-M (Long Term Evolution for Machines) have the potential to provide superior penetration into buildings, supporting low-data applications and optimizing deployment and ongoing costs.
Cellular connectivity certainly feels like a suitable replacement for PSTN connections, and this was the recommendation of the Lift and Escalator Industry Association in their press release from November 2019, which discussed the benefits of using GSM mobile networks.
Before proceeding with the switch over, solutions providers must make sure that they choose the best connectivity partner for the job. They need experts who can quickly and easily deploy this technology at scale. To manage thousands of lifts internationally, they must feel confident that their new solution will connect seamlessly to multiple mobile networks and that those connections will be secure, reliable, and easily managed through one integrated platform.
Precision Agriculture is the leading-edge IoT application for farmers, and the most extensive farming areas in the U.S. are sprinting to the front of the pack.
Precision agriculture is a farming management method used to describe farming that uses IoT technologies like satellite farming or site-specific crop management to observe, measure, and respond to changes in crop conditions in real-time. This presents apparent benefits to farmers because it can help them avoid the worst outcomes of overwatering, dry periods, and even pest infestations while preserving land viability and improving profits. In addition, these tools can allow farmers and ranchers to reduce environmental footprints, lower costs, and improve productivity.
Several U.S. states with considerable investments in agriculture are setting out plans to encourage precision agriculture deployments. Let’s take a look at two in particular: North Dakota and Nebraska.
South Dakota State University (SDSU) recently opened its Raven Precision Agriculture Center, with a grand opening ceremony for the 122,694-square-foot facility and a celebratory Precision Agriculture Bowl football game on September 11.
In a statement to the Brookings Register, John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, said, “We appreciate the support of the many South Dakota stakeholders who helped to make this new hub of teaching, research, and outreach possible. The new Raven Precision Agriculture Center features spaces to house modern precision farm equipment, 15 teaching labs, 12 research labs, and 22 collaborative spaces. Scientists from various departments and agricultural industry partners can collaborate in research, education, and outreach activities.”
SDSU was the first land-grant university to offer both a bachelor’s degree and minor in precision agriculture, the minor in 2015 and the major began in 2016. Since then, the program has graduated 36 students with a degree in Precision Agriculture. There are 82 current students enrolled in the major, and 57 are pursuing the minor for the Fall 2021 semester.
The new learning center, which costs $46.1 million, is hosting about 500 students that are studying agricultural and biosystems engineering, agricultural systems technology, agronomy, and agricultural science.
Just to the south, neighboring state Nebraska is also making moves, but at the national level. Nebraska Republican Senator Deb Fischer recently introduced the Precision Agriculture Loan Act and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar. The bipartisan legislation is written to create a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would provide loan financing to farmers and ranchers across the country that are looking to purchase precision agriculture equipment or solutions.
The proposed legislation was supported by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in a recent statement. Dennis Slater, AEM President, said in a statement that the bill “will give U.S. farmers a whole new set of tools to help achieve climate goals while continuing to feed and fuel the world.”
In all respects, the technological improvements to process and sustainability enabled through the implementation of Precision Agriculture mean good things for farmers, eaters, and society in general.
CalChip Connect VP of Sales Brian Bielawski was a featured speaker at RIoT on October 5th at the Hilton at North Hills, Raleigh. The panel, moderated by RIoT Executive Director Tom Snyder, covered the why-to and how-to of applying Internet of Things technology to vertical industry challenges. Brian shared his real-world experiences with IoT and how retailers can use IoT to drive revenue, efficiency, and customer loyalty.
(photo caption: from left to right – Tom Snyder, RIoT; Quang Trinh, Axis Communications; Brian Bielawski, CalChip Connect; Manal El-Ramly, NewsCo)