Huawei and General Electric partner on industrial IoT

GE and Huawei are aiming to push the industrial industry towards digitisation and automation by collaborating on developing cloud-based apps and solutions.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chinese technology giant Huawei has announced signing a memorandum of understanding with General Electric (GE), which will see them partner on application development for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The development, promotion, and delivery of cloud-based applications and automation solutions as part of the strategic partnership will see the two companies rely on GE's Predix IIoT platform in combination with Huawei's IoT gateways, big data computing platform, network controllers, and connection management platform.

"The next decade is critical for the transition to [the] digital economy," said Huawei's chief strategy marketing officer William Xu.

"Industry digitisation will require connectivity among a huge number of devices, Big Data computing, and smart applications. No single company can address all these challenges on its own. Companies need to collaborate openly with partners and integrate resources and capabilities from partners in order to contribute to customers' success."

Both companies said collaboration is the key to achieving the move towards digitisation for the industry, particularly given the growth of the industrial internet in Huawei's home market of China.

"The growth of the Industrial Internet in China demands not only capital and development from companies like GE and our partners, but also a commitment to align the private and public sector to build together," added GE Digital CEO Bill Ruh.

"We are very pleased to become a strategic partner of Huawei in IIoT. We look forward to joining forces with leaders from every industry, including our customers, partners, and developers from around the world, to realise the brilliant vision for IIoT."

Huawei earlier this month also launched its narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) solution at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai, saying it will have a large-scale commercialised IoT offering by the end of this year.

Huawei's NB-IoT solution will enable telecommunications providers to "turn IoT into a basic service", the company said, with the solution to be made available in September followed by a large commercial trial slated for Q4 and large-scale commercial deployment in December.

"The number of cellular IoT connections worldwide will grow seven-fold over the next three to four years," Jiang Wangcheng, vice president of Marketing and Solutions in Huawei's Products and Solutions division, said.

"NB-IoT will be a key driver for this trend -- it will also be one of the key untapped markets for operators. In 2015, Huawei launched the '1+2+1' IoT ICT Strategy. As commercial deployment draws near, our end-to-end NB-IoT Solution will be part of our core IoT strategy and drive the commercialisation of IoT applications.

"We are also building up a robust ecosystem where we aim to explore new business areas together with our carrier customers and partners. At Huawei, we are very confident and fully ready to enter a new era of IoT commercialisation."

Included in Huawei's low-power, wide-area NB-IoT solution is Huawei's LiteOS and NB-IoT chipset-enabled Smart Device Solution; base stations named eNodeB that adapt to NB-IoT; the "core in a box" network-function virtualisation (NFV) IoT Packet Core; and a big data-capable cloud-based IoT Connection Management Platform.

The solution was developed according to 3GPP standards, and is accessible for all NB-IoT application and device partners.

According to Huawei, its so-called "1+2+1" IoT strategy creates the benefits of rapid and flexible full network coverage of NB-IoT thanks to NFV-based cloud SingleRAN architecture; its LiteOS allows for low-power industry-specific NB-IoT devices with a shorter time to market; and the solution enables industry-specific applications through the open big data-capable cloud-based Connection Management Platform.

Huawei also announced that it will be launching an NB-IoT software suite named SoftRadio during the third quarter of 2016, which "allows developers to access NB-IoT labs via the internet for remote innovation and commissioning". It will also publish a whitepaper on how developers can make use of its IoT open labs.

Huawei and Vodafone in April opened an open lab in Newbury, UK, dedicated to the research and development (R&D) of NB-IoT technology and applications, with Huawei planning to open six more across the globe.

The lab will provide a testing environment for application developers and chip, module, and device manufacturers, the companies said.

Huawei has been working towards its IoT solution for some time; in May, it announced completing a trial of its NB-IoT technology across Vodafone Australia's network in Melbourne, calling the wireless low-power wide-area network tests a success.

The companies were able to attain greater depth and distance -- to the tune of penetrating through three double-brick walls in depth, and up to 30km in distance -- in coverage using NB-IoT in comparison to 2G, 3G, and 4G.

Using narrowband networks for the IoT will allow for more devices to be connected to 4G networks at a lower cost.

Huawei in April said that with NB-IoT standards due to be "frozen" in June, it has been undertaking trials across the globe ahead of Thursday's NB-IoT announcement.

Huawei's president of Products and Solutions Ryan Ding also recently discussed Huawei's core strategy for the IoT itself, outlining a three-pronged approach.

The foundational layer of this involves what he called Huawei's LiteOS, which enables low-latency and energy-saving things to be connected to the IoT. The second layer involves collaboration between wired and wireless connections to ensure that connectivity is ubiquitous and coverage is enhanced. The third and final step is to invest in a cloud-based IoT connectivity management platform by which Huawei can ensure tens of millions of connections of devices, and fast integration of these.

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