“If you build it, they will come!”

The Actility Blog

“If you build it, they will come!”

Unless you are a Baby boomer or Generation X, this may mean nothing to you! “If you build it, they will come!” Is a famous quote from a great movie of the late 80s called Field of Dreams. It’s a movie about baseball, the great American sport, and I imagine most Europeans have no idea what I’m referring to, even if from the right generation!

Actility has built it! We are launching ThingPark Enterprise at Mobile World Congress. ThingPark Enterprise is the most powerful and advanced dedicated Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution. The making started a few quarters back with a vision, as in the movie, a vision in which few believed, and many were skeptical.  

We needed to arm ourselves with research and data. And we did a lot of research! The reports from Orbis Research stated the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) LPWA Connections were to Grow at a 206 Percent CAGR to 2021 and HIS Markit said LPWA networks are expected to make a significant contribution to the M2M and IoT ecosystem, with an estimated $23 Billion in service revenue by 2020. This told us which direction to go, and at what speed. And mostly researched you, the customer. By doing our own surveys, and analyzing reports from OVUM that state:

“By 2018 we expect to start seeing see significant numbers of LPWA enterprise contract awards and the proliferation of application use cases.”

Start small and you will grow

With this deep insight, we analyzed your needs. We concluded you needed not a connectivity platform, but a solution. A complete, secure, manageable solution, that would give you what you needed to improve your process, to facilitate your day to day, improve the services you deliver, help you manage your valuables, your assets. We agreed this had to be a cost-effective complete solution, which would include the hardware required, the software, the installation, the services and the support. We knew we had to make it simple, flexible, accessible. We took into account we had to make it scalable, as we know you will start small and you will grow. And that is what we did!

Think of your ThingPark Enterprise network in the same terms as your WiFi network. For certain objects, in certain places, connecting to public WiFi is best. And in other cases, you deploy your own WiFi network. We designed the user interface (UI) to give you a graphical view of your solution and enable you to drive data from each device independently, or in groups, to the applications of your choice.

Transform business, industries and processes

IIoT is what we do! Who better to build this for you? The Actility IIoT connectivity platform, tools, and fast-growing ecosystem enable customers to create solutions that transform business, industries, and processes. The ThingPark LPWA platform connects sensors gathering data to cloud applications on any scale. 

Our ThingPark Wireless LPWA platform is the most deployed solution in the world, operated by leading service providers offering public connectivity. ThingPark Enterprise responds to the natural evolution of the market, addressing the Enterprise segment, where public connectivity is not available or does not fit the requirements.

If you build it, they will come! We built it! and we deliver this to you via the Actility Distribution Partners. Your trusted SI will be trained and certified to help you start your digital transformation and bring you to the field of dreams.  We already have a few early adopters, and we look forward to having you join them.

Come see ThingPark Enterprise on our stand at Mobile World Congress in hall 8.0 C3. Our team of experts is ready to present the solution to you.

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.

Actility ignites a revolution in logistics with a breakthrough IoT Geolocation and Tracking Solution

Actility logo

The Actility Newsroom

Actility ignites a revolution in logistics with a breakthrough IoT Geolocation and Tracking Solution

Actility, the industry leader in Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), today announces the availability of a comprehensive geolocation and tracking solution platform offering breakthrough network-based location capability enabled by Cisco LoRaWAN network gateways and infrastructure. The ThingPark Location Service will be available to IoT solution providers and enterprise developers through a single API in ThingPark X, the company’s data mediation and enrichment platform.

“We believe that accurate location combined with LPWA networks are a game-changer in the logistics sector, delivering a revolution in precision and efficiency of resource and supply chain management.” explains Actility CEO Mike Mulica. 

“Geolocation and tracking could possibly be the biggest use case in the whole of the internet of things, based on the amount of interest we’re seeing in our location service portfolio. We are making asset tracking accessible to the global supply chain at very compelling cost and very long battery life for tracked devices, and of course with fine location granularity, all combined into a market-ready package with easy integration into existing enterprise management platforms and network solutions.”

Visitors to Actility’s booth at Mobile World Congress (8.C03) will be able to see the network based location solution in action, tracking vehicles and containers in the nearby Port of Barcelona. The system does not rely on dedicated tracking sensors. The signal from any LoRaWAN enabled device in the Port is received by several of the Cisco Interface Modules for LoRaWAN mounted throughout the facility. 

By precisely measuring the time it takes for that signal to reach each of the modules, the network is able to compute the distance to the device from each gateway and then “triangulate” its position. Since this solution does not require the connected device to be fitted with GPS, and the location calculation is done in the cloud, network-based geolocation carries no power penalty, and the lifetime of the device in the field is unaffected. Trackers capable of up to ten years in the field without maintenance are possible.

For many applications, the ability to locate an asset with minimal power usage is more critical than high precision accuracy – for theft prevention, for example, it is important to be sure that an asset is within a specific depot or site area, but not exactly where it is. For other live tracking applications, though, the exact location precision offered by GPS is necessary. To meet these high precision use cases, Actilty also integrates LoRa assisted GPS in its ThingPark Location Service. Dedicated tracking devices select relevant GPS signals to determine their location, and use energy-efficient LoRaWAN communication to pass location information to tracking applications. LoRA enabled GPS offers much longer battery life than comparable GPS trackers using mobile cellular modems.

“KPN believes localization is an important feature for a wide variety of LPWA use cases. Actility’s Thingpark Location Platform is as a very promising solution enabling geolocation, tracking and geofencing of assets in many industries,” comments Jacob Groote, EVP of Service Platforms at Actility customer KPN.

The complete Location Service will be available through a single ThingPark X API, which, coupled with the bidirectional capability of the LoRaWAN link, will allow developers to manage geolocation according to the needs of their application. For example, in an asset tracking and theft prevention scenario, the application may use low-power consumption network-based location to geo-fence a vehicle, raising an alert only when it strays outside a defined area. But if the vehicle breaks through that geo-fence, then the application can request regular GPS-based location updates to enable the vehicle to be traced in real time and recovered.

“We’re delighted to be pioneering this next evolution of IoT technology,” says Actility CEO Mike Mulica. “We believe that this capability is a game changer for many industries, including logistics, supply chain management, precision agriculture, utilities and mining. It’s the “killer app” for industrial IoT.”