Successful international roaming demonstrated by Orange, KPN, Actility opens new horizons for IoT

The Actility Newsroom

Successful international roaming demonstrated by Orange, KPN, Actility opens new horizons for IoT

Orange, KPN and IoT connectivity platform supplier Actility today reveal the first successful field test of actual roaming between nationwide public IoT networks, implementing the latest LoRa Alliance™ specifications. Roaming is the ability for an IoT device to seamlessly connect to different LoRaWAN networks to transmit its data. This successful implementation of roaming protocols in the field opens up the possibility of connecting sensors or trackers that move between countries. It also simplifies the implementation of international business applications – by removing the need to both integrate several IoT platforms and contract with multiple LoRaWAN operators – thereby reducing time to market for customers.

In October, the LoRa Alliance released the first version of the LoRaWAN Backend Interfaces Specification. This governs how LoRaWAN sensor data are passed between different networks to enable roaming. Based on this specification, Orange and KPN set up a secure roaming interface between their Actility network server platforms, and have successfully tested Orange devices operating on the KPN network in the Netherlands and KPN devices operating on the Orange France network.

“This first successful LoRaWAN compliant roaming communication in the field is a critical milestone to unlock several key segments of the IoT market by removing the barrier of national borders,” says Bertrand Waels, head of Alternative Radio Access at Orange. “Our tests in an open collaboration with KPN in the Netherlands and with the support of Actility show that the specifications published by the LoRa Alliance do work reliably in the field.”

Roaming is important for the whole IoT ecosystem (device manufacturers, device owners, application platforms, and network operators). Roaming simplifies the development of international use cases, such as with a trucking company’s logistics chain or a start-up selling products across Europe. It can eliminate the need to develop variants of devices and applications for each IoT network and national markets, optimizing time to market and bringing economies of scale.

“Unlocking international markets is a major driver for our customers. We are pleased with this major step, roaming is key to extending our LoRaWAN based IoT services around the globe,” adds Carolien Nijhuis, Director IoT at KPN.

Since its foundation in 2015, the LoRa Alliance has been developing open LoRaWAN IoT standards to the benefit of a large and dynamic ecosystem. 

“Actility was a major contributor to the roaming specification work because we believe the benefits in terms of applications and greater simplicity and reduced costs for the ecosystem are clear,” says Olivier Hersent, CTO of Actility. “Ultimately the LoRaWAN ecosystem can seamlessly cluster thousands of networks. We believe an open and multi-vendor system can scale up to the requirements of the Internet of Things.”

Actility Smart Energy solution harnesses Orange batteries to secure France’s electricity grid during demand peak

The Actility Newsroom

Actility Smart Energy solution harnesses Orange batteries to secure France’s electricity grid during demand peak

French consumers and industry have been protected from power outages on several occasions this winter by Actility’s Smart Grid technology exploiting the capacity of thousands of batteries at Orange locations across France to mitigate the effects of high demand peaks and associated power surges. Actility has been working with Orange, RTE, the largest Transmission System Operator (TSO) in Europe, and Enedis, the largest French Distribution System Operator, to provide and activate a “clean demand response” capability in response to spikes in energy demand. The system has been called into action several times already, achieving a temporary demand reduction of 10MW initially, and more recently reaching 15MW.

“These successful interventions on over 7000 sites in a matter of minutes, clearly demonstrate the power of a Smart Grid enabled by the intelligence of the IoT to enhance the capabilities and resilience of the electricity transmission system and to protect its customers,” comments Actility CTO Olivier Hersent. “We’re also creating a new opportunity for Orange to create value from its back-up capacity, which is normally a rarely-used ‘insurance policy’.”

“To prepare tomorrow’s grid, combining electricity and digital, RTE is developing innovative market mechanisms,” says RTE’s Sales Manager for Market Services, Laurent Lamy. “The aim is to enlarge the scope of solutions that could provide balancing services. The use of these existing batteries is one good example of new type of flexibility having a positive impact on power system balance. We are satisfied that our clients take all business opportunities from services developed in France”.

“At Enedis, as a DSO, we are committed to facilitating market participation of distributed energy resources and we are pleased to enable this Actility and Orange initiative that illustrates the evolution of the energy system: decentralized and customer-centred” says Emmanuel Husson, Director of Customers and Markets at Enedis. “At the intersection of digitalization and the electricity system, such smart grid innovation will be fostered by the ongoing roll out of smart metering, and new business models will be triggered, relying on consumer empowerment and new technologies.”

Orange has over 7000 fixed telephone relay stations and broadband internet routing sites which are essential to the operation of the company’s networks. Sustained operations are guaranteed during power outages, thanks to a high-capacity array of small back-up batteries installed at each site. The battery stores sufficient energy to  keep the site operational for an extended period without external power supply. RTE, the French TSO, sends load curtailment requests to Actility in case of unexpected demand surges. 

Actility’s Smart Grid application translates those requests into control requests to the Orange sites. The local energy management systems switch over from distribution grid supply to using a maximum of 50% of the energy stored in the battery, maintaining the resilience of the site. The system responds within 9 minutes and supports the grid for up to one hour, and the process can be repeated if required.

To track possible impact on battery lifetime cost-effectively, Actility concentrates on the monitoring only a few parameters of the battery behaviour. Using dedicated algorithms, Actility could prove the accuracy and reliability of impact tracking across multiple sites, preventing the need to install dedicated hardware. Given the vast number of sites involved, this  significantly reduced implementation and run costs.

“We’re dealing with thousands of essential sites, so we can’t afford any mistakes,” comments Cedric De Jonghe, Manager of Actility’s Energy Business Unit. “We have to take all of Orange’s constraints into account in real time,  including the fact that some sites may not be available to us. What’s particularly interesting about this project is that instead of starting a diesel generator, we are switching to batteries, a  “green curtailment” which of course is much better in times of climate change and a new awareness of the impact of pollution.”

“We would like to welcome Actility’s initiative for its pioneering activity in Europe, which places France to the forefront of distributed energy resources management and energy storage innovation worldwide”, adds Cedric Thoma, responsible for smart grids, hydrogen and energy storage with the French Energy Ministry.

Internet of Things specialist Actility announces $25 million funding round led by Ginko Ventures, KPN, Orange, Swisscom and Foxconn

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The Actility Newsroom

Internet of Things specialist Actility announces $25 million funding round led by Ginko Ventures, KPN, Orange, Swisscom and Foxconn

Investment from leading telcos and Foxconn investment fund offers powerful endorsement of Actility’s unique approach to IoT enablement

Paris, France, 16 June 2015: Actility, a leading provider of network solutions and managed information systems for the Internet of Things (IoT) market, today announced it has secured a $25 million funding round led by Ginko Ventures. Ginko Ventures leads a prestigious group of investors including tier-one telcos KPN, Orange, Swisscom and Foxconn, along with the existing investors Fonds Ecotechnologies managed by Bpifrance Investissement, Idinvest Partners, and Truffle Capital.

The investment will allow Actility to accelerate its go-to-market strategy for ThingPark, its open standard IoT network solution; funding its operational resources, building a high level of service and continuing to develop technology partnerships to foster a healthy ecosystem. It follows a recently concluded technology partnership between Actility and Swisscom.

A fully integrated platform for nationwide IoT, Actility’s ThingPark™ is designed to enable IoT services for any market sector, offering ready-to-go IoT connectivity plus a full set of ready-to-sell applications in less than one month. It is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) radio network built on the LoRaWAN™ standard, developed and supported by the LoRa™ Alliance. LoRaWAN networks address the three critical elements required for IoT networks connecting billions of devices: low power, long range, and low cost. ThingPark represents the first end-to-end, LoRaWAN interoperable platform to serve the IoT market for every use case.

“Today’s wireless technologies are not optimized for IoT applications which require sensors to be low power and able to run on a battery with very little maintenance. ThingPark provides the technology to connect both long range and low power sensors over unlicensed ISM band spectrum, allowing low cost and fast roll-out of IoT networks for a wide range of IoT applications,” said Olivier Hersent, Founder, CEO and CTO, Actility. “We are delighted to have secured the backing of such prominent communications industry leaders.”

“With more than 50 Billion devices to be connected by 2020, Cisco believes that new scalable IoT infrastructure and services will become key evolution at every scale, for Telcos, cities and corporate campuses,” said Tony Shakib, Vice-President IoE (Internet of Everything) Vertical Solutions at Cisco.
He added:“We backed LoRaWAN as an open technology for IoT and are excited to see today such industry momentum behind Actility, whom we see as a critical partner to make pervasive IoT infrastructure and services.”

“After the rise of personal connected objects such as consumer wearable devices, we are now witnessing the emergence of a second wave: managed connected objects,” said Hersent. “Managed connected objects are creating a more efficient, more sustainable world. With a ubiquitous and cost-effective IoT network in place, utilities for instance will be able to accelerate their smart-metering plans, to optimize the filling of fuel tanks, to increase the use of renewable energy by dynamically controlling thermostats. We have the technology to achieve a paradigm shift in remote monitoring and management – think of instant fire or leak detection, or prevention of loss of valuable equipment using smart tracking. Ubiquitous IoT will have a huge impact in agriculture and other key sectors of the economy. ThingPark is available now, allowing Telecom operators or municipalities to deploy an IoT network in a month.”

Foxconn Group is transforming to be a High Technology Solution Provider, including Hardware and Software Value creation. Through this strategic investment, we will expand our current collaboration with Actility to bring its LoRaWAN technology and IoT Platform and Solutions to Taiwan, China, and the rest of Asia,’ said Fang Ming Lu, Executive Vice President of Foxconn. “We will leverage our strong network to accelerate the development of the IoT ecosystem, as well as promote and integrate Actility’s IoT Solutions for Smart Cities implementation in APAC.’

Jasper Snijder, SVP New Business at KPN, said:“As a founding member of the LoRa alliance, we’re proud to partner with Actility and contribute to the development of the Internet-of-Things – the next big thing in the digital landscape.”

Pierre Louette, Orange’s Deputy CEO who is also responsible for Orange Digital Ventures said: “Actility’s connected objects platform is based on bringing together its open service approach with the power of networks. This clearly corresponds to the ambition of Orange Digital Ventures to invest in actors that are developing innovative digital services that contribute to change our customers experience and answer the changing desires and needs of our customers. The Internet of Things is an extremely promising new market and it is important for Orange to support the start-ups and developers who are currently working on services that will become part of our future.”

Jean-Paul de Weck, CEO Swisscom Broadcast: “This is a technology that comes at the right time for operators to accelerate the connection of objects. There is set to be a huge increase in the demand for IoT and we see Actility as a key partner as we expand our activities in this market.”

“Actility’s innovative platform combined with operators’ ability to deliver long term network services nationwide are key to the adoption of IoT applications such as utility metering, street lighting, asset tracking or home security that need resilient and cost effective infrastructure in place for many years,” saidDominique Pitteloud, Managing Partner at Ginko Ventures. “Key to the structuring of the investment round was to bring together a set of strategic investors to collaborate on building the infrastructure for the successful deployment of these new services.”