M1 launches commercial IoT network in boost to Singapore's Smart Nation drive

M1 launches commercial IoT network in boost to Singapore's Smart Nation drive

SINGAPORE: Telco M1 on Monday (Aug 7) launched its first commercial nationwide network dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT).

With the launch of the network, known as Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), M1 and its partners are offering solutions such as smart energy management for buildings, environmental monitoring, asset tracking and fleet management, the telco said in its press release. It had first revealed plans for the network in August last year. 

The new network will allow companies that deploy connected devices and sensors like Keppel Electric to cut down on costs, as they no longer need to tap on traditional mobile networks that are more expensive. This also helps free up the telco's mobile network. 

M1 NB-IoT example 1
Smart rubbish bins enabled with sensors will trigger an alert to cleaners to clear them after a certain level is met. (Photo: M1)

M1 chief innovation officer Alex Tan, using the example of fleet management, explained last August that the industry currently uses a SIM card that is dependent on the cellular network to track one's fleet, but this is overkill. “You don’t need a heavy pipe to transmit sensor data that requires low through-put,” Mr Tan said then.

As part of the collaboration, Keppel Electric is piloting an energy management meter that is expected to be cheaper and faster to deploy, and this will in turn allow commercial, industrial and residential customers to track their energy usage, it said. 

“With the full liberalisation of the electricity market expected in 2018, the launch of M1’s NB-IoT network is a timely development for us and our customers, who will get to enjoy easy access to useful real-time consumption data at a lower cost," said Keppel Electric general manager Janice Bong.

Mr Tan Kiat How, chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), said he was "heartened" about the launch, noting that IoT is a key technology area for growth which will drive Singapore's digital economy. 

M1 NB-IoT example 2
The NB-IoT network will support personnel tracking devices with long battery life for segments such as children or dementia patients. (Photo: M1)

M1 claimed in the press release to be the first in Southeast Asia and second in the world to launch such a network. However, in February this year, IoT network operator UnaBiz, together with Engie and Sigfox, said they have deployed the first IoT network in Singapore, "achieving 95 per cent outdoor coverage across the island".  

Rival telco Singtel also said on Monday it intends to roll out its nationwide IoT network by end-September. The network will support Cat-M1 and NB-IoT technologies, which will allow businesses to "benefit from applications with low-power consumption, deep coverage and multiple connections", it said.

Cat-M1 technology supports IoT and enables battery lifetime as long as 10 years or more.

"A distinguishing feature of Singtel’s cellular IoT over Cat-M1 network is that it enables businesses to make Voice over LTE (VoLTE) calls in future using small portable devices with long battery life, such as wearables and trackers with voice capability," the telco said.

Source: CNA/kk