A Revolution in Passive Roaming

Mobile World Congress Actility booth picture small

The Actility Blog

A Revolution in Passive Roaming

Mobile World Congress Actility booth picture

At the Mobile World Congress a few months ago, Actility announced that it was offering LoRaWAN Network Operators a chance to test their passive roaming capabilities. Today, we are glad to offer this labs platform available before the LoRa Alliance standard specification release due this September.

While we are highly involved in this effort through the Alliance’s Technical Committee, we wanted to enable LoRaWAN Network Operators early availability for testing their passive roaming capabilities. Here are the five reasons why:

1. It’s a critical feature in many use cases

Since LoRaWAN is an open standard that benefits from a large ecosystem / 500+ companies in the LoRa Alliance, LoRaWAN networks do not form yet a universal coverage everywhere.

While roaming allows a rapid growth of the ecosystem and many local use cases, it is critical for devices in the following use cases:

  • International tracking: track shipments across borders not only in routing hubs but throughout their journey up to the last mile (now RFID) supply chain & logistics (track containers throughout their journey);
  • MNO network sharing through extensions or densification or National Solution Provider deployments with extension in multiple national networks;
  • Managed Customer Networks with fall-back on national networks outside of local facilities.

2. Standardization is work in progress

The LoRa Alliance targets to release official LoRaWAN Backend Interface (BEI) specification (v1.0) in September 2017. Standardization work is completed and in BoD approval.

For two years now, Actility has been heavily involved in that effort:

  • Actility is leading the Alliance Working Group on Roaming, and co-chairing the Technical Committe.
  • Actility has demonstrated Passive Roaming at MWC in February 2017.
  • Actility is starting interoperability tests with first vendors during summer, other vendors to follow.
  • End of May, Actility announced availability of the Passive Roaming feature on “Actility labs” testing platforms: our customers can test the service with their own gateways and devices.

3. Passive roaming is the killer feature for telcos

IoT standards like LTE-M and NB-IoT are maturing, and the roaming ability is a must-have for LoRaWAN to be competitive.

While both LoRaBEI 1.0 and LoRaWAN1.1 (new Mac layer) are expected to be finalized around September, industry expects new MAC layer LoRaWAN1.1 rollout to be much slower.

Because it involves updates on the device side, the adoption will only be done gradually for newer devices. 

However, by implementing LoRaBEI1.0, it is possible to deploy Passive Roaming for both LoRaWAN1.0 and LoRaWAN1.1 devices, without any change on device side

4. Actility Labs Platform is an innovation booster

Before ThingPark platform latest features are fully released commercially  this Lab offers operators early access and ability to test these features on live networks including with other Actility customers. The passive Roaming feature is delivered through accounts on two test operators powered by Actility Network Servers.

After interoperability tests have been completed, the platform may be extended with other vendors’ Network Servers. This should demonstrate in real life how provisioning Roaming Agreement between operator works.

Until the platform is launched, Actility will be constantly upgrading it with new features such as Handover Roaming on the same platform.

This Lab Platform maximizes Actility customers’ competitiveness by testing innovative roaming features ahead of the other, enabling them to communicate or demonstrate first.

5. Still some challenges to tackle

While setting up commercial Roaming agreements between operators will take time, there are other challenges to be considered for global roaming use cases.

Operators must agree on common channels in their channel plans so that devices can roam from one network to another. LoRaWAN regional parameters cover 9 ISM bands today, in accordance to local regulations. Mobile devices will need to discover in which region they are located and adapt accordingly, to avoid device emissions that violate local regulations.

Smart Energies Expo Paris: Connecting with Intelligence to Leverage Energy Flexibility

Energy team at smart award picture small

The Actility Blog

Smart Energies Expo Paris:
Connecting with Intelligence to Leverage Energy Flexibility

By Arnout Aertgeerts: On 6-7 June, our Utility Practice attended the Smart Energies Expo in Paris. Down a huge hall, 80 exhibitors welcomed 3000 attendees both from companies and utilities. Actility came in numbers (7 altogether) to present its new ThingPark Energy platform as well as to fight for the Technology Innovation Smart Award… Let me tell you about these intense two days as well as their climax: the pitching battle!

A flagship event for Actility’s Utility Practice

As a Product Manager with the Utility Practice, I was proud to present our newly born ThingPark Energy as the cornerstone of our Energy & Utility Solutions. The technology had been ready since 2013, then we trialed it with two major deployments (Orange and Veolia). And there you go, a fully integrated suite of applications for Automated Demand Response and Energy Management!

This energy platform is a milestone for our company as the origin of our name confirms: Actility comes from the contraction of Active Utility. It indeed unites our IoT technology with energy applications that we have been working on since the company was created.

The Smart Energies event offered us more than just a product launch opportunity… Last April, we decided to apply for the Smart Awards in the Technology Innovation category. We had the perfect use case to present: Orange’s battery project, flexibility management for grid stability in France, that was deployed in production in Q1.

Last but not least, Olivier Hersent, our CTO and co-founder, was offered to give a keynote on the synergies between IoT and the energy vertical, reinforcing our positioning as a leader in the Internet of Energy.

“IoT boils down to a digital translation of the real world.” Olivier Hersent

An energy branded booth to draw attention

My team and I were very excited to showcase a brand new booth, specifically designed for Actility’s energy vertical activities! Our gorgeous booth attracted mainly large industrial companies but also consulting firms like our neighbors GreenBirdie. Interesting enough is that some visitors who knew us for our IoT expertise were happy to learn about our smart grid capabilities.

Discussing the digitization of industries highlights the economic impact of an efficient energy management: it reduces production costs for industries and thus prevents skills relocation. Actility’s Demand Response solution automatically meets the electricity market need by taking every opportunity to buy or sell energy at optimal price levels while contributing to a low-carbon economy.

A 3 month-preparation leading to the Smart Awards

The Orange project started with a technical analysis two years ago and involved a very light investment from Orange and a lot of talks to comply with stringent energy regulation. The project’s ROI was short term, generating profits in the first year by monetizing the flexible storage capacities of their 7.000 batteries on French Demand Response services.

“The Orange battery use case is really impactful to both secure France’s electricity grid during demand peak as well as to create value from its passive backup capacity.” Cyrille Chevallet
Energy team at smart award picture

Our Orange Energy Project Manager further explains that “this project is truly innovative insofar as software development is concerned. It is a world premiere to integrate as many as 7.000 sites to achieve load curtailment in only a couple of minutes with no additional hardware needed to follow the curtailed energy data in real-time”.

Cyrille applied with this project in April, and we got selected for the final round to get the opportunity mid-May. We were to pitch the project during a 15-minute pitch and then defend it against the other finalist during a two-minute battle to win the award.

The Smart Awards two round battle

Round 1

I had the opportunity to pitch the project with my colleague Adrien Dore, Energy Sales Manager. This 15-minute presentation allowed me to give insights on the background of the project, and explain how it allowed Actility to build our ThingPark Energy product by adding new essential algorithms we standardized for the platform.

“The audience was highly impressed with this project’s very short term ROI, thus demonstrating our powerful technology.” Adrien Dore

Round 2

After the last rehearsal, Adrien walks to the stage where the Battle takes place, right next to our booth – convenient for me to handle visitors as well as to follow his pitch. Actility is competing against Sylfen, a secured large capacity energy storage solution. The public has one minute to vote. I can see all people around me voting… And immediately afterward comes the result: Actility’s Orange battery wins with 69% says the moderator!  Wow, we did it, and all felt so proud of it!

In the end, Smart Energies Expo and Awards allowed us to strengthen our credentials in the energy industry as an advanced aggregator and technology provider. We showcased our innovative solution for energy management by being a leader in IoT and a recognized player on the Demand Response market. We left the event with promising business leads including one for an end-to-end digital energy project that would include LoRaWAN deployment to manage energy consumption. Pretty good, huh?!

3 Good Fairies Welcome the Newborn Swedish LoRaWAN™ Ecosystem

Mark Maidman and Nicolas Beaumer at the Blink Services IoT event

The Actility Blog

3 Good Fairies Welcome the Newborn Swedish LoRaWAN™ Ecosystem

Mark Maidman and Nicolas Beaumer at the Blink Services IoT event

Actility was invited to the Blink Services and Landskrona Energi IoT event on 9 June to brief their potential customers on LoRaWAN™ use cases. Nicolas Beaumer, IoT Product Strategy Manager and myself, Mark Maidman, UK and Northern Europe Sales Manager, were honored to meet the newborn Swedish LoRaWAN™ ecosystem.  

Blink Services’ insightful and inspiring IoT event

The IoT event organized by Blink Services in Landskrona (Sweden) on 9 June was very inspiring to meet so many interested parties in one location. They were really engaged throughout the presentation and asked highly relevant questions about specific use cases such as soil moisture at the end which was fantastic for me as:

  1. I didn’t send them to sleep
  2. They understood my English accent!!

The event also demonstrated Blink’s positioning in the IoT market and the great customer relationships they are building across Sweden. I can’t wait to go back and help Blink develop their capabilities in partnership with Actility even further.

“We appreciate the firm support we received from Actility by sending their star speaker, Mark Maidman, to our event. Mark’s performance was highly appreciated by the audience and he managed to bring clarity to the IoT concept”, says Matts Lilja, Managing Director at Blink Services.

Countdown to Cisco Live US 2017! Come see how Actility will ignite your IoT projects!

Black and white light city picture

The Actility Blog

Countdown to Cisco Live US 2017! Come see how Actility will ignite your IoT projects!

Black and white light city picture

By Magali Mitaux: Our theme is Smart City and UtilitiesA few facts have guided us in choosing this theme. We know today that half of the world’s inhabitants—3.6 billion people—live in cities, and it is growing fast. By 2030, 60 percent of the population—5 billion people—will be city dwellers.

The solutions to manage growing cities in ways that drive sustainable economic growth, while reducing pollution and safeguarding resources, are all based on IoT.

It is that simple.  IoT is the answer; all analysts agree, all reports confirm, all studies explain! Once you understand this, the next question is: “which IoT?” quickly followed by “how?”

How do you cope with rapid urbanization, alongside with the demands for quality of life, whilst providing new services that are resource-efficient and drive economic growth?  The answer is by connecting smart devices to the LPWA network. That answers the “which IoT?” question! To know more about the strength of LoRaWAN, I invite you to read the article in NETMANIAS.

Cities are the main source of global economic growth and productivity, and they account for most resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Urban development, therefore, matters to the wellbeing of all the world’s occupants and explains why we are focusing on these solutions at Cisco Live US (CLUS). Today, many existing solutions address these pain points, and we will be showing many on our booth in the IoT and Industry District, booth 4201.

Smart lighting

This is probably the smartest of all choices! Gartner says that smart lighting has the potential to reduce energy cost by 90 %! All cities should start with this as it optimizes energy savings, safety, and comfort.  We will have a demo of our device maker partner Flashnet on our stand, come see it!

Smart Parking

Studies show that 20% of cars driving in cities are looking for a place to park! Imagine an app on your phone telling you where the nearest parking space from your destination is. You could reserve it. Park. Pay for the parking with the app. This reduces pollution, reduced traffic and congestion, and enhances the user experience. We will be showing, on our stand, the smart parking solution from our partner PNI connected to the LoRaWAN network with Actility ThingPark.

Tracking

Real-time urban travel solution – Navigate the city’s transit system with accurate real-time predictions, simple trip planning, service disruption notification at the most effective costs.  The Cisco Live attendees will experience this first hand.  Several shuttles, taking you to and from the event, will be equipped to enable the Cisco Events application, on your phone, to alert you when the shuttle is arriving. With LoRaWAN the ability to track at low cost is now possible. This solution is implemented with Abeeway trackers.

To find the response to the ‘how’ question, come see us! Actility can accelerate your Digital Transformation and ignite your IoT! Actility’s ThingPark Solution is at the heart of the LoRaWAN Cisco offer. Our experts are on our stand ready to wow you!

We are right next to the Cisco LoRaWAN booth! Come see us in the IoT and Industry District booth 4201!

Actility’s IoT perspectives in the Middle East from oil rigs to happiness meters

People in front of Actility booth at middle east event small

The Actility Blog

Actility’s IoT perspectives in the Middle East from oil rigs to happiness meters

People in front of Actility booth at middle east event

By Ahmed Bouna: Actility is exploring new territories as much as it is pioneering with IoT technologies. As the sales lead for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), me and my team attended IoTx event in Dubai (21-23 May). Let me share some feedbacks on this event as well as my insights on LPWA technologies adoption in my region, which is an IoT sweet spot.

IoTx Dubai: the must-attend event

IoTx is the must-attend event for anyone interested in innovative IoT technologies in the MENA region, whether you are a customer or a provider. Held in Dubai World Trade Centre in the UAE, IoTx marked the first of many events to follow for Actility in the Middle East.

Altogether 180 visitors visited our booth, ranging from Operators such as Etisalat, du, STC, Ooredoo, Thuraya, Yahsat and MTN Iran, to System Integrators such as ARC, Emircom, Orange Business Services, Samtech, GBM and Skop Holding. Actility is clearly perceived a serious player in the LoRAWAN™ ecosystem. We are acknowledged for our global Tier 1 customer references, as well as for the largest IoT ecosystem (https://market.thingpark.com/) and have unmatched technical expertise on LPWA technologies. We were also very proud to display our partners’ devices on the booth.

Understanding different IoT technologies

One of the key discussions with Operators was related to the confusion created by four kinds of IoT technologies (LoRa, NB-IoT/LTE-M, sigfox, ingenu). The IoTx event enabled to give a clear status on those technologies:

  • LoRaWAN: Already deployed by major Tier 1 Operators, backed by the LoRa Alliance, composed of more than 500 members including Cisco/IBM/HP…, offering the widest IoT ecosystem.
  • NB-IoT/LTE-M is proposed by the traditional Telco vendors. It will become a reality in 2 or 3 years since Operators need to upgrade their core networks and also, they need to secure affordable ecosystem. LoRaWAN and NB–IoT/LTE-M are seen to be complementary.
  • Sigfox + ingenu: Those are 2 companies offering property technologies, small ecosystems and no private data hosting in the domestic markets.

From a media standpoint, recent press releases outlining our collaboration with Machines Talk in Saudi Arabia and GET Wireless in Tunisia were a clear signal that LPWA is real. Rolling out a LoRaWAN network with Machines Talk is a true reference since Saudi Arabia is the most complex market to conquer within the MENA region.

Overall, it was a very successful event. In my opinion, tradeshows do not only help increase visibility, they confirm a real interest from a business development perspective which builds trustworthy and long-term relationships with people and companies. In the coming months, we aim to participate in events and trade fairs in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Tunisia, and Oman, which are key countries in terms of IoT adoption.

Optimization, from oil rigs to happiness meters

As you may have guessed, one of the main drivers in my region is the oil industry, that constantly needs to increase revenues and manage their high costs. Implementing IoT is an excellent means to better monitor machines, automate processes and operations, and eventually, take better decisions to increase efficiency.

“We have been doing a lot of research into what type of technologies are out there today that can take Dubai ahead of the game. And, we have found that blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are some of the nascent technologies that have been present in the market for the past five or six years. They are still relatively new and need a mature approach, where they can be shaped to fit a citywide implementation.” Dr. Aisha bin Bishr, director general of the Smart Dubai Office*

From a very different standpoint, Dubai is a pioneer in this quest for optimization; it aims at becoming the happiest city in the world thanks to its state-of-the-art infrastructure and services. If you are in the UAE’s hub, chances are that you will run into a Happiness Meter. Smart Dubai, the Governmental entity in charge of transforming Dubai into a smart city, has invested in innovative technologies such as IoT to offer its citizens and visitors alike a seamless and efficient living experience… A first step towards happiness indeed!

* http://www.khaleejtimes.com/blockchain-iot-and-big-data-are-tools-of-the-future-experts-say