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Singtel to start consumer IoT trials in Q3 2017

Southeast Asia's biggest telecom group Singtel has developed a platform that integrates standalone IoT applications, including connected cars

Singapore telco Singtel will be conducting trials that enable consumers to monitor their internet of things (IoT) devices and applications from a single platform in the third quarter this year.

Dubbed Assured+, the platform developed by Singtel and Ericsson will support eldercare, connected cars and other emerging IoT applications, the two companies revealed on 1 March 2017.

The platform is aimed at addressing fragmentation in the IoT market, which has seen technology providers touting their own hardware, services and connectivity infrastructure. It will also provide an open and simplified experience for developers to support new devices and applications.

With most IoT devices, including wearables and smart home devices, being managed by specific applications that are usually place-centric and proprietary, many in the industry have called for an open IoT ecosystem.

“To realise the full potential of IoT and offer our customers the best user experience, we need to ensure collaboration between people, devices and networks,” said Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO of Singtel’s consumer business in Singapore.

“By integrating standalone applications into one solution, Assured+ will bring convenience to our customers and pave the way for more IoT systems, such as smart home, to be launched in a seamless manner,” he added.

Ericsson’s CIO Per Borgklint noted that with Singtel’s network expertise, existing relationships with device manufacturers, large subscriber base and established retail channels, the telco is well-positioned to be a leader in IoT connectivity initiatives.

Clement Teo, principal analyst at analyst firm Ovum, told Computer Weekly that while Singtel may be one of the first telcos in Singapore to develop an IoT platform for consumers, it remains to be seen if consumers will bite.

For one, he said Singtel will need to be clear if a consumer, or Singtel, should be accountable for securing IoT devices on the new platform, given the October 2016 incident where compromised consumer devices were used to launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the network of Singapore telco StarHub.

Plus, with a plethora of devices based on various IoT standards and technologies in the market, the issue of integrating different devices will need to be addressed.

Like rival telcos M1 and StarHub, Singtel also offers machine-to-machine (M2M) services for enterprises to connect up IoT devices in a variety of enterprise applications, such as video surveillance, fleet management and customer service.

Recently, Singapore-based IoT systems provider UnaBiz launched Southeast Asia’s first nationwide IoT network aimed at hooking up IoT devices that transmit very small amounts of data and may be left on their own for years.

But unlike Assured+, which will connect devices across existing 3G/4G, NB-IoT and LTE Cat-M networks on licensed spectrum, UnaBiz’s network is based on Sigfox’s proprietary technology that operates in open, unlicensed spectrum.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, 70% of wide-area IoT devices will use cellular technology by 2022. Globally, the number of IoT devices is also expected to surpass that of cellphones by 2018.

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