AT&T FirstNet Makes Great Progress; Deal with Mutualink increases Inter-operability

FirstNet is a dedicated LTE network for public safety users, which passed 600,000 “connections” earlier this month.  It has been built by AT&T and has has engagements with more than 7,000 public safety agencies.

FirstNet is built in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority). This helps to ensure that the FirstNet communications platform and service offerings meet the short- and long-term needs of the public safety community.

FirstNet is improving communications to allow for improved response times and outcomes for first responders from coast-to-coast, in rural and urban areas, inland and on boarders – leading to safer, and more secure communities. It provides innovation and dedicated capacity so public safety can take advantage of advanced technologies, tools and services during emergencies, such as:

  • Applications that allow first responders to reliably share videos, text messages, photos and other information during incidents in near real-time
  • Devices configured to meet the focused needs of public safety
  • Improved location services to help with mapping capabilities during rescue and recovery operations
  • Deployables available for planned and unplanned emergency events

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Speaking this past week at the MoffettNathanson’s 6th  Annual Media & Communications Summit in New York City, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer John Stephens discussed how the carrier’s deployment of FirstNet is progressing rapidly and laying the groundwork for 5G.

According to AT&T, FirstNet is 25% faster than any domestic commercial network.  That claim is based on Ookla test data covering average download speeds in Q1 2019.

The FirstNet build-out is instrumental to AT&T 5G deployment plans, Stephens said. “The FirstNet contract, which is enabling us to go through a process from an LTE to evolve into a 5G network, is really working. We’re getting dramatic speed uptakes. If you look at the two fastest networks in the United States right now, they’re both ours…That’s what’s driving the business. That’ll drive innovation, that’ll drive opportunity.”

As AT&T upgrades its cell sites to deploy Band 14 [1] for FirstNet, crews are upgrading other equipment to support the 5G New Radio specification. Stephens said the operator is working toward “national coverage of 5G” by the “middle of the next year.”

Note 1. Band 14 is the spectrum licensed to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to create a nationwide public-safety wireless broadband network. Band 14represents 20 MHz of highly desirable spectrum in the 700 MHz band that provides good propagation in urban and rural areas and decent penetration into buildings.

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This week, AT&T announced it would resell Mutualink to enhance interoperable communications for public safety. This new relationship will allow AT&T to bring Mutualink’s Interoperable Response and Preparedness Platform (IRAPP) to first responders and supporting agencies using services provided over FirstNet public safety communications platform. 

Mutualink states on their website:  “This network is the largest nationwide network of public safety agencies, critical infrastructure, schools and private enterprise security. The IRAPP is transport agnostic, device agnostic and media agnostic. It leverages your current communications assets and incorporates new devices as needed. Connect to the IRAPP network via public or private LTE, satellite or terrestrial broadband.”

“FirstNet brings public safety one, nationwide platform for consistent, reliable communications across agencies and jurisdictions,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, FirstNet Program at AT&T. “As apps and mobile data increasingly become critical components of the public safety response, we want to help make sure the flow of information that FirstNet provides remains seamless. Our agreement with Mutualink aims to do just that, taking the interoperability that FirstNet provides to the next level.”

FirstNet already facilitates multi-agency communications to aid in incident response and resolution. The agreement with Mutualink builds upon this, expanding the reach, reliability and capability of FirstNet services today. FirstNet subscribers can use the Mutualink IRAPP solution to enhance their ability to easily and quickly communicate across systems and applications, sharing voice, data, video and more in a highly secure environment.

By bringing the Mutualink solution to the FirstNet platform, first responders using Mutualink’s IRAPP will be able to simultaneously take advantage of key FirstNet capabilities – like First Priority™, which enables priority and, for first responders, preemption.

“Adding Mutualink’s Interoperable Response and Preparedness Platform to the FirstNet communications platform will increase the level of interoperability for public safety, especially with respect to on-demand cross-agency interoperability. Our solution enables highly secure sharing of video and data across systems and integration with smart sensor and IoT systems,” Mark Hatten, chief executive officer and chairman, Mutualink. “This will help FirstNet subscribers scale up their access to emerging information as the situation unfolds, creating a common operating picture for all involved.”

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“FirstNet is helping first responders solve long-standing interoperability challenges and arming them with the information they need to coordinate action plans and make critical decisions. We’re pleased to see AT&T form innovative collaborations that will help foster a new era of situational awareness for public safety,” said FirstNet Authority Acting CEO Edward Parkinson.

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References:

https://www.firstnet.gov/network

https://about.att.com/story/2019/att_and_mutualink.html

https://mutualink.net/our-solution/

http://mutualink.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/1-National-Vision-White-Paper-3-17-17.pdf

https://www.rcrwireless.com/20190516/5g/att-5g-national-coverage

 

2019 IoT World: T-Mobile is Changing the Game for Massive IoT via NB-IoT

Introduction:

T-Mobile USA was the first U.S. wireless carrier to provide nationwide NB-IoT coverage last July.  The “uncarrier” is very proud to have 81 million cellular customers and a very low churn rate.  The company has invested billions of dollars in the last five years to modernize and transform its wireless network. As of February 7, 2019,  T-Mobile’s LTE network now covers 325 million people, according to a recent earning report..

During his May 14th 2019 IoT World keynote, Balaji Sridharan, VP of IoT & M2M at T-Mobile US, described the challenges to overcome to realize massive IoT at scale and T-Mobile’s wireless networks that might be used for three different classes of IoT connectivity.  Balaji also enumerate key features and attributes of NB-IoT and showed an interesting comparison chart of LPWANs.  He said its 600 MHz spectrum is deployed throughout the U.S.  [1]

Note 1.  During its April 2019 earnings call, CTO Neville Ray said: “we have over 1 million square miles of 600 megahertz LTE rolled out.  It’s working in 44 states and Puerto Rico. And we have a 100 million covered PoPs on 600 megahertz LTE. So we’ve said that in 2020, we’ll have a nationwide footprint on 5G. 

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IoT Classification and Characteristics [from Ericsson white paper]:

Massive IoT: Connecting billions of devices, small amounts of data volumes, (mostly) sent infrequently, low power required for long battery life (years not days, weeks or months).

Broadband IoT will need high throughput and/or low latency.; large data volumes.

Critical IoT will require ultra high reliability/availability and very low latency.  Industrial automation (and robotic surgery) will require time sensitive information delivery and precise positioning of devices.

Industrial Automation is tailored for advanced industrial automation in conjunction with the other cellular IoT segments. It includes Radio Access Network (RAN) capabilities to facilitate the support of deterministic networks which, together with ethernet-based protocols and other industrial protocols, will enable many advanced industrial automation applications. 

These applications have extremely demanding connectivity requirements and require very accurate indoor positioning and distinct architecture and security attributes. Industrial Automation IoT reinforced by Critical IoT connectivity is the key enabler for the full digitalization of Industry 4.0 for the world’s manufacturers, the Oil and Gas sectors as well as smart grid components for energy distribution companies. 

Figure 1: Cellular IoT segments

Above chart courtesy of Ericsson.

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T-Mo has wireless networks to meet all of the above IoT market segmants.  In particular, NB-IoT, 4G-LTE, and (soon) 5G.

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Challenges to overcome for Massive IoT:

  • Support billions of devices at scale (that includes provisioning and (re) configuration).
  • Long battery life (via low power consumption of devices/things)
  • Coverage enhancements
  • Global reach

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NB-IoT meets the requirements for Massive IoT:

Operates in guard bands of T-Mobile’s LTE network. [2]

Wide range of devices to be connected to the Internet using existing mobile networks (rather then new network infrastructure).

Key benefits include:  better battery life (again via low power consumption for connectivity), cheaper device costs ($5 certified NB-IoT module is now available), optimized data usage, reduced IP header and ability to transmit/receive non-IP data (which results in 30% to 40% less data transmission than if traditional IP was used), enhanced security via GSMA standards, licensed spectrum (no interference),, SIM based, and encryption.

Balaji said: “Improved network coverage is achieved via repetitions, which are used to enhance coverage.”  [3.]

Note 2. NB-IoT can also be implemented in “standalone” for deployments in dedicated spectrum.

Note 3. From an IEEE published paper titled: Enhancing Coverage in Narrow Band-IoT Using Machine Learning:

NB-IoT needs only a small portion of the existing available cellular spectrum to operate without interfering with it. Hence, NB-IoT provides more reliability and more quality of service (QoS) as it operates in regulated spectrum. Moreover, NB-IoT uses existing cellular network infrastructure, which reduces the deployment costs.

However, since repeating transmission data and control signals has been selected as a major solution to enhance coverage of NB-IoT systems, this leads to reducing the system throughput and thereby a spectral efficiency loss.

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Here’s a comparison chart showing: 2G,  licensed spectrum NB-IoT vs unlicensed band Sigfox and LoRa (WAN):

Chart courtesy of T-Mobile USA

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Balaji highlighted several Massive IoT applications that could effectively  use NB-IoT for connectivity.  Those include: asset tracking, smart metering, smart lighting, equipment monitoring, smart packaging, and intelligent waste management.

In addition to the $5 NB-IoT modules now available Balaji revealed T-Mo has a $5/year NB-IoT service plan.  

T-Mo hosted the U.S.’ first NB-IoT Hackathon to develop IoT applications that would leverage NB-IoT as a viable wireless network.  Sensing the presene of forest fires was an example he provided.

T-Mo partnered with Twillio to get NB-IoT to market.  They created a new development kit that allowed Hackathon participants to access the NB-IoT network.  [4.]

Note 4.  More than 100 new and seasoned developers descended on T-Mobile HQ to help shape the future of NB-IoT at the Hackathon.  20 creative and unique IoT concepts for prospective IoT solutions emerged that could leverage the low cost and power efficiency of NB-IoT and its reliability over long distances.

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U.S. Carrier Comparison for NB-IoT Deployments:

T-Mobile launched its NB-IoT network last July. AT&T’s NB-IoT network went live two weeks ago. Sprint said it is testing NB-IoT technology, but it plans to merge with T-Mobile in the not-too-distant future so may not roll out its own NB-IoT offering.

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NB-IoT Chipset Forecast:

Research & Markets predicts the NB-IoT chipset market is expected to grow from USD 272 million in 2019 to USD 2,002 million by 2024 at a CAGR of 49.1%.

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References:

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/americas-first-narrowband-iot-network

https://iot.t-mobile.com/narrowband/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/04/27/t-mobile-u-s-profit-beats-estimates-plan-to-launch-5g-on-600-mhz-in-2h-2019/

https://www.gsma.com/iot/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NB-IoT_Deployment_Guide_v2_5Apr2018.pdf

https://iot.t-mobile.com/hackathon/

https://iot.t-mobile.com/wp-content/themes/T-Mobile/device_images/pdf_download/Whitepaper_NarrowBand_IoT_March2019.pdf

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/05/15/2019-iot-world-verizons-narrowband-iot-nb-iot-network-now-covers-92-of-u-s/

 

2019 IoT World: Award Winners in 11 Categories; Senet for Connectivity Solution

Winners of the first-ever IoT World Awards were named May 15th at the 2019 Internet of Things World conference. The awards program highlighted exemplary IoT projects, products and people in 11 categories, with 51 entries named as finalists.

A mix of editors, analysts, researchers, consultants and others participated in the judging process for the non-personal IoT World awards. The personal awards were chosen based on votes by nearly 5,000 industry professionals.

Here are the winners:

  1. Startup of the Year: Apana. Five-year-old Apana won in the startup category for its intelligent water management system, which helps to reduce water waste and optimize its use for industrial and commercial customers. Apana’s LoRa-based technology is installed as a retrofit kit and sends real-time water use data to the cloud. The service analyzes the data to identify patterns and sends information about water misuse to frontline workers, who could then take action to stop the waste.
  2. Enterprise IoT Deployment: Avis Budget Group. Avis Budget Group took home this prize in recognition of its multiyear program to connect its 600,000 vehicles to its IoT platform and mobile app. In 2018, partnerships with vehicle manufacturers such as Toyota and Ford, hardware companies such as ID Systems and technology providers such as Continental figured prominently in its plan to connect more than 100,00 vehicles. In Kansas City, it showcased connectivity of all 5,000 vehicles in its regional fleet there. Late last year, it announced its tech platform would be hosted on AWS Connected Vehicle Cloud. Avis Budget Group touts benefits of the program, both for the company and its customers. Internally, Avis has reduced operational costs and cut revenue loss from fuel and vehicle recovery. Externally, it says, customer satisfaction associated with the mobile app has increased in the double digits, measured by Net Promoter Scores.
  3. Achievements in IoT Integration: Siemens MindSphere integration efforts. According to the company, its integration differentiators fall into three categories:

    • Connectivity. Siemens provides connectivity to a range of assets and systems, including industrial and enterprise systems, data historians, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), distributed control systems (DCS), manufacturing execution system (MES), manufacturing operations management (MOM), product lifecycle management (PLM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), quality management (QM) and supply chain management (SCM) systems and service platforms.
    • Digital twin capability. Siemens said its digital twin platform integrates operational asset data; data from product, production and performance twins; and industrial IoT analytics.
    • Ecosystem support. The company’s integration services encompass devices and systems (including on-premises and cloud-based systems) from Siemens as well as other manufacturers.

    According to Siemens, its R&D team’s efforts related to integration focus on data lakes, data contextualization and data connectors for additional data integration within MindSphere. The company boasts of a benchmark it recently completed at an automotive company, with all integration and analytics work completed in two weeks — after two competitors spent five weeks without finishing either the integration or analytics work, it said.

  4. IoT Merger/Acquisition of the Year: IBM and Oniqua. IBM acquired Oniqua, a maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) company focused on the mining, oil and gas, utilities, process manufacturing, and transportation industries, in June 2018 and then folded it into the Global Business Services and Watson IoT business units. IBM intends to leverage Oniqua to enhance its software as a service (SaaS) offerings aimed at digital transformation of asset-intensive industries, giving clients the ability to monitor, manage and proactively maintain their assets; minimize operational downtime; and optimize inventory costs. According to IBM, Oniqua gives the company the ability to improve its asset optimization portfolio, which includes Maximo enterprise asset management, predictive maintenance and prescriptive repair.

    IBM says that Oniqua provides an ROI of between 100% and 400% in the first year of deployment; 15% to 50% reduction in inventory; 30% to 50% reduction in stock-out risk; 15% to 40% reduction in maintenance budgets; and 20% to 25% improvement in supplier performance.

  5.  Consumer IoT Solution: Phyn Plus Smart Water Assistant + Shutoff. According to the Phyn, the product gives homeowners an unprecedented understanding of their water use, toward the goal of avoiding leaks, conserving water and saving money. It monitors a home’s entire plumbing system from a single location on the water line, measuring changes in water pressure 240 times a second. It alerts homeowners immediately upon detection of a leak, diagnosing potential problems before they wreak havoc. The Phyn Plus Smart Water Assistant + Shutoff develops a “fingerprint” of each plumbing fixture in the home to be able to ID the source of a leak. If a home experiences a sudden large leak, the Phyn Plus can automatically turn off the water.

    The product has a mobile app that allows remote monitoring of water usage, remote control of water use in up to six properties, and integration with Alexa for voice queries and commands.

  6. Edge Computing Solution: Dell Technologies’ “open edge” software stack. The “open edge” approach consists of commercially supported versions of the open source EdgeX Foundry framework. It runs on Photon OS, is managed by VMware’s Pulse IoT Center and has builds available for Dell Gateway hardware or other ARM reference boards. The company describes the stack as modular and open, able to work with any device, hardware, app or cloud service. It has integrated device management and pre-built software connectors (to sensors and devices as well as to the cloud) that help accelerate the implementation, deployment and operation of IoT projects. Its open architecture allows developers to quickly move between projects without having to learn custom code, and components can be reused in multiple projects.

    Best Edge Computing Solution shortlisted entries: Dell Technologies, EdgeX Foundry, FogHorn, Itron Inc., Lantronix Inc. and Relayr.

  7. IoT Security Solution: AWS’ IoT Device Defender. This product audits device-related resources (such as X.509 certificates and client IDs) for compliance with best practices, such as the principle of least-privilege. It detects unusual behavior by continuously monitoring security metrics from the device and AWS IoT Core, and it reports devices that are out of compliance. It also facilitates mitigation steps, such as revoking permissions or rebooting a device.

    The company cites customers across vertical markets, from industrial to consumer to enterprise.

  8.  IoT Connectivity Solution: Senet’s Low Power Wide Area Virtual Network. Senet said it takes a “revolutionary approach to providing IoT connectivity.”

    Senet connects all customer network and gateway deployments through its Low Power Wide Area Network Virtual Network (LVN), where participating connectivity providers have access to the largest global LoRaWAN network and benefit from a revenue share model based on the role they play in the larger network ecosystem.

    Senet’s LVN, Managed Network Services for IoT (MNSi) and public network are powered by its proprietary Network Operating System, which is built on a common cloud-based services architecture. The Senet operating system provides extremely efficient, scalable and secure options to connect and manage low-power, low-cost sensors at massive scale and simplifies historically complex operations related to application and device registration, message accounting and settlements.

    The Low Power Wide Area Virtual Network allows device connectivity on any LoRaWAN network using Senet’s OSS and BSS platforms, which eliminates the need for roaming contracts and delivers low-cost connectivity. According to Senet, third parties can build IoT-related services on top of the Senet network. The company points to distribution partnerships with SenRa (India) and Inland Cellular (Northwest U.S.) and to deployments by New York City (LoRaWAN gateways on city-owned buildings in all five boroughs) and propane and oil tank monitoring company WESROC.

    Best IoT Connectivity Solution shortlisted entries: Emnify, MediaTek, Nordic Semiconductor, PTC and Senet.

  9.  Industrial IoT Solution: IBM Watson IoT Platform. This service (available across public or private cloud or in a hybrid cloud deployment model) aims to simplify the process for industrial shops in a variety of markets to capture and explore data from IoT devices, equipment and machines. The service comprises three components:

    • IoT Platform Connection Service. This service helps to securely register and connect resources to IoT Platform.
    • IoT Platform Analytics Service. This service focuses on visualizing and analyzing IoT data, enabling AI-driven predictions about the assets connected to IoT Platform.
    • IoT Platform Blockchain Service. This service aims to validate transactions among IoT resources within IoT Platform, delivering the ability to track and trace assets as, for instance, they move through a supply chain.

    IBM touts the impact of IoT Platform across a range of industrial verticals, including cosmetics manufacturing, mineral mining, home appliance manufacturing, the shipping industry, railways, energy supply companies and offshore drilling operations.

  10. Enterprise CxO of the Year: Joanna Sohovich. The CEO of access control and smart home integration company Chamberlain Group snagged this award based on her work on Chamberlain’s myQ technology, which enables users to control or monitor garage access via smartphone.

    Lutz Beck, CIO at Daimler Trucks North America, took second place, and Arthur Orduna, CIO at Avis Budget Group, came in third.

  11. Solution Provider CxO of the Year: Kevin Brown. Kevin, senior vice president of innovation and CTO in the Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric, is known for creating high-impact strategies and teams to maximize revenue, profit and competitive advantage.

    Anthony Bartolo, chief product officer at Tata Communications, took the silver medal, and Bask Iyer, CIO at VMware, claimed third-place honors.

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IoT World Awards Winners Announced

 

FCC: White spaces on hold till Microsoft and TV broadcasters have consensus

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will put aside its work freeing up TV white spaces until Microsoft and broadcasters reach an accord on sharing the spectrum for wireless broadband, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told the House Communications Subcommittee. He cited “tricky” technical and policy matters the agency needs to address even as Microsoft and TV stations try to find middle ground on the band’s use.

Pai was asked by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) about the status of the white spaces “experiment,” who said that probably every part of his district has such white spaces.  Pai said he had seen the promise of white spaces technology in places like South Boston, Va., a town in rural southern Virginia, 

The chairman said there had been a lot of “tricky” technical issues and policy issues the commission had been hammering out (a number of them involving how to use that spectrum without interfering with licensed broadcast transmissions nearby).

The FCC in March resolved a number of petitions to reconsider the remote sensing database works, which is how unlicensed mobile devices can use the spectrum without–hopefully–interfering with TV station signals. So far broadcasters have questioned the efficacy of that process.

The FCC is permitting the use of white space devices (notably computers), both fixed and mobile, in unused channels, ch. 37, guard bands between broadcast and wireless spectrum and between uplink and downlink spectrum in the 600 MHz band–which they are sharing after the incentive auction.

It is part of the FCC’s focus on freeing up more spectrum for advanced wireless and closing the rural digital divide, which computer companies argue “white spaces” play a key role.

Pai praised Microsoft, the prime mover behind a white spaces rural broadband project, and the National Association of Broadcasters, who have agreed on a number of outstanding issues, though not on Microsoft’s desire to use adjacent channels, which NAB has argued is too close for comfort.

“If there is a consensus that allows us to move forward, we would like to do so,” he said, though he could not provide a timeline. 

https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/fccs-pai-white-spaces-item-awaits-broadcast-microsoft-consensus

https://www.fcc.gov/general/white-space

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