French telecoms giant Orange has primarily chosen LTE-M to be progressively deployed on its 4G networks in Europe, starting with Belgium and Spain this year before the rest of the Group's European footprint.
This versatile and cost-effective technology is seen by Orange to support the broadest of uses, connecting - in a secure and scalable way - a wide variety of IoT devices, from smart utility meters, asset monitoring trackers, vending machines and alarm systems to fleets of vehicles, heavy equipment, mHealth and wearables. It also offers rapid deployment involving a simple software upgrade to the Group's existing global 4G network.
The group is also launching new LTE-M pilots this year, amongst them one on smart electric metering (to remotely control power consumption and adapt user subscriptions); and another on wearables (to measure individual movement, positioning, temperature or other health-related information). For those pilots, Orange is working closely with leading LTE-M chipset manufacturers: Altair Semiconductor, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Sequans as well as various network equipment vendors.
Orange is cementing its commitment to develop the IoT ecosystem with Europe's first LTE-M Open IoT Lab, designed to boost the ecosystem around the Mobile Internet of Things. It is the first of its kind in Europe based on LTE-M technology and is to be launched under the GSMA Mobile IoT initiative.
Available from 1April, the Open IoT Lab is located at Orange Gardens, the Group's innovation campus in Chatillon, France, and is designed to support partners wishing to accelerate the development of LTE-M devices with access to: an IoT Starter Kit; network equipment to test performance, low data rate, coverage extension and energy optimisation features; its IoT & Analytics platform, a key component of the Orange Datavenue IoT solution; and Orange technical experts, designers and marketers to benefit from the Group's go to market ability in industries such as smart cities & territories, automotive & transportation, industry & manufacturing, healthcare and smart home.
The Open IoT Lab also allows partners willing to evaluate how their product or service performs over LTE-M or LoRa technologies as two complementary IoT solutions.
"Futureproof, secured and reliable connectivity is a key pillar of Orange's IoT strategy. By working together with IoT partners, device manufacturers and innovators, we can accelerate the development of the LTE-M technology end-to-end chain, and therefore advance towards the future of the Internet of Things," said Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Executive Vice President Innovation, Marketing and Technologies, Orange.
This LTE-M announcement comes as a new illustration of Orange's investment strategy on LPWA, which started with the opening of a LoRa network in early 2016 in France, now providing indoor or deep indoor coverage in more than 2,000 towns, cities or industrial sites. The Orange LoRa solution serves more than 60 live B2B projects, in numerous verticals such as smart cities, smart building, parking, smart home, industry, supply chain, tracking, and agriculture, and enables Orange and its B2B customers to quickly gain in experience on LPWA benefits.
The Orange LoRa end to end solution will be extended worldwide in July 2017 as an Orange Business Services offer to provide focused coverage on cities, harbours, or industrial sites. To meet all of its customers' needs, Orange also continues testing and evaluating other Mobile IoT technologies, as well as preparing for 5G.