Building an expanded global IoT ecosystem
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The last few days have seen a number of developments in the IoT (Internet of Things) ecosystem, that will help the industry address the service and connectivity demands of organisations. Business technology journalist Antony Savvas considers the progress being made. Satellite partners Inmarsat has launched ELEVATE, a brand new […]

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Building an expanded global IoT ecosystem

The last few days have seen a number of developments in the IoT (Internet of Things) ecosystem, that will help the industry address the service and connectivity demands of organisations. Business technology journalist Antony Savvas considers the progress being made.

Satellite partners

Inmarsat has launched ELEVATE, a brand new partner programme providing a framework of support for businesses throughout their IoT journeys.

Inmarsat says satellite is a key segment of the IoT market, with analyst house Omdia reckoning the number of global satellite IoT connections is set to continue to grow at a 25% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) in the coming years.

To accelerate these IoT opportunities for businesses around the world, Inmarsat’s partner programme will offer three key pillars of support for firms.

The first one is a development programme for IoT solution providers, system integrators, machinery manufacturers and OEMs looking to scale, who will be able to take advantage of Inmarsat’s ELERA satellite network.

The second pillar is a partner ecosystem, enabling organisations to access each other’s knowledge and collaborate with other organisations within the satellite IoT sector. The third effort is an online marketplace to promote IoT solutions that work “seamlessly” anywhere in the world, no matter how remote, to ensure every business can benefit, said the provider.

In the next five years, the goal is for ELEVATE to help partners achieve “double digit growth”, as well as establishing the marketplace as a leading destination for solutions that work anywhere.

“The satellite IoT market has been steadily growing for years, and now is the time to up the ante and kickstart its next stage of more rapid growth,” says Mike Carter, president at Inmarsat Enterprise. “ELEVATE will help our customers realise the promise of IoT anywhere, while empowering the wider satellite IoT ecosystem to make it a reality.”

He adds: “Our initiative will enable knowledge-sharing and collaboration at an unprecedented scale, between parties of all sizes, in all geographies and industries, while our online marketplace will promote IoT solutions for any and every business need.”

EchoStar

Inmarsat’s move follows another recent IoT satellite initiative by EchoStar Mobile, which has launched an early adopter programme for a pan-European satellite-based LoRa (long range) low power IoT service.

Under the programme, participants in sectors such as transport and logistics, agriculture, oil and gas and utilities will test the service.

Until now, LoRa’s use has mainly been limited to receiving data from immobile, battery-run devices in areas with terrestrial connectivity.

The EchoStar offering allows sensors to roam freely, while sending and receiving information through global satellite connectivity. It makes use of the company’s licensed S-band spectrum and capacity on the EchoStar XXI geostationary satellite, with a LoRa-enabled module that integrates “easily” into IoT devices.

Compatible with terrestrial ISM-band LoRaWAN networks, the module incorporates the compact LR1120 chipset from Semtech, making it “highly portable”.

Telemaco Melia, vice president and general manager of EchoStar Mobile, says: “LoRa connectivity makes up 45% of today’s global IoT networks, and it’s perfect for connecting low-powered “things”, yet its reliance on terrestrial connectivity restricts its usefulness.

“Replacing fibre and cable with satellite connectivity, our solution is the first real-time, bi-directional LoRa service with mobile and remote capabilities.”

The programme already spans more than 10,000 devices, with the service expected to “scale to millions of devices in Europe alone”, says Melia.

Vodafone

Feeding into the general IoT growth trajectory is Vodafone, which has launched its “Edge Innovation Programme 2.0” effort. This offers more business customers and partners the opportunity to co-create “novel” services based on its multi-access edge computing (MEC) technology, working alongside the telco’s 5G network.

MEC moves services and processes closer to the devices that need them, or closer to the edge. Data collected by devices or apps does not have to traverse the internet to be processed in a centralised cloud (which could be in a data centre anywhere around the world), but rather can be processed closer to the customer. This means a big reduction in lag, or latency, and enables quicker decision making and analytics.

Using both dedicated and distributed MEC technologies, the programme will “inspire” the creation of “innovative and futuristic services, products and applications”, Vodafone says.

Distributed MEC technology means the application is hosted in the public cloud. In reality, this means a specialised server in Vodafone facilities. The servers support multiple customer workloads and are a more cost-effective solution.

Dedicated MEC means the application is hosted on specialist servers deployed at the customer’s site. To achieve the greatest performance, the deployment of Dedicated MEC should be paired with a private connectivity offering or network slicing capabilities.

The 2.0 programme is open to companies of all sizes, from any industry and for any use case. Participants can apply for “try before you buy” MEC services.

Software bill of materials

Shampoo, cookies, canned soup and medicines all have one thing in common: the listing of all ingredients on the package and their traceability back through the manufacturer to the producer of the individual ingredient not so with IoT software.

Important smart industrial controls, intelligent production plants and devices such as routers, network cameras, printers and many other items often contain software components with no proof of origin, potentially leaving backdoors for hackers and data thieves.

Automated security and compliance analysis firm ONEKEY (formerly IoT Inspector) wants to reverse this potentially damaging scenario.

Antony Savvas

In its IoT Security Report 2022, 75% of 320 IT industry executives surveyed, said they supported a precise proof of all software components in IoT systems the so-called Software Bill of Materials (SBOM).

ONEKEY has developed a fully automated analysis solution for control systems, production equipment and smart devices, and has made it available as an “easy-to-integrate” platform for companies and hardware manufacturers.

All these offerings are certainly worthy of consideration across the IoT ecosystem, if it is to continue to move forward, when it comes interconnectivity, efficiency, scalability and security.

The author is Antony Savvas, a global freelance business technology journalist.

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