M1 launches Singapore NB-IoT network

Singapore telco has commercially launched its nationwide Narrowband Internet of Things network, along with an enterprise customer that is piloting an energy management meter on the platform.

M1 has commercially launched its nationwide Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network across Singapore, along with an enterprise customer that is piloting an energy management meter on the platform.

The launch came a year after the Singapore telco first unveiled plans to build the network in partnership with Nokia, touting it as a more efficient way to support IoT communications. Such M2M (machine-to-machine) communications were low-bandwidth, needed robust indoor penetration, and had low power consumption.

M1 CEO Karen Kooi said the launch would "accelerate" Singapore's journey as a digital society, with IoT creating new opportunities and innovation. "We look forward to working closely with government agencies, technology partners, and customers to enable smart solutions for everything and everyone," Kooi said in a statement Monday.

Keppel Electric already had hopped onboard to pilot an energy management meter on M1's IoT network. The deployment was expected to allow Keppel to roll out power and water meters to customers' premises more quickly and cost effectively. The meters also would enable commercial, industrial, and residential customers to monitor their energy usage.

Keppel Electric's general manager Janice Bong 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 to enjoy easy access to useful real-time consumption data at a lower cost. We also see the potential of such implementations helping consumers to manage their electricity use more prudently."

The Singapore government had earmarked IoT as an important focus area for its smart nation goal, which initial tests comprised the rollout of thousands of data sensors to be tapped for various applications around urban mobility, sustainability, and improving sensing and situational awareness.

In May 2017, the government also reaffirmed plans to set aside S$2.4 billion to its smart nation efforts and digital transformation. The funds would go towards ICT tenders in its fiscal 2017, which would encompass investments in various technology areas including IoT sensors and data analytics, as well as enhancements to the necessary communications infrastructures.

Earlier today, Singtel announced plans to launch its own IoT network in Singapore next month, which it said would support both Cat-M1 and narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technologies.

In response to the two announcements, Singapore's other telco StarHub said it was currently deploying a nationwide NB-IoT network and installing LoRaWAN gateways and sensors to support ongoing trials with its partners. These pilots included tamper-proof locks for urban logistics and smart water metering, it said.

LoRaWAN is a low power, media access control (MAC) protocol for wide area networks and intended for IoT deployments.

Asked when exactly its IoT network would be commercially ready, a StarHub spokesperson told ZDNet this was expected "in the coming months".

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