Huawei is turning Chinese city into a vast NB-IoT demo playground

15 Sep 2017

China cityscape. Image: hfzimages/Shutterstock

This week in IoT, Huawei creates a demo smart city, industry is getting serious about AI, and Intel and Tencent team up for blockchain.

Ireland was shown to be following global trends in internet of things (IoT) adoption earlier this week, according to the latest quarterly ComReg report.

According to its statistics, IoT use in Ireland has increased, and the number of machine-to-machine subscriptions in the country rose to 746,803 connected devices, marking an increase of 23.1pc on last year.

Meanwhile, anyone who leaves their Bluetooth on as they walk around town might want to think again after a new vulnerability called BlueBorne was discovered.

BlueBorne earns its name for the way it spreads through the air on Bluetooth connections, and it can be used to conduct remote code execution as well as man-in-the-middle attacks.

Virtually any device that runs on Windows, Linux or Android that hasn’t recently been patched is at risk of being compromised by an attacker within just 32ft, so get yourself updated.

Huawei creates demo smart city

Huawei, now the second-largest smartphone producer in the world, is kitting out the city of Weifang, China, with all the latest in smart city tech, including narrowband IoT (NB-IoT).

According to ZDNet, a myriad of sensors are going to be placed throughout the city, including street lamps that will automatically adjust to brightness, aiming to drastically reduce energy consumption and maintenance.

Developed with Huawei’s own IoT platform, the company said that under NB-IoT, its remote systems, Wi-Fi hotspots and video surveillance will be the first step in a “nervous system” of more than 100 smart cities across the globe.

“The underlying connectivity in these smart cities will be critical to unlock the potential of the digital economy,” said Huawei’s head of smart city development, Zheng Zhibin.

“Huawei is focused on improving connectivity capabilities within cities, and is creating the nervous system of better-connected cities through an IoT platform, achieving better awareness [and] connectivity among smart devices.”

T-Mobile confirms national NB-IoT network for US by 2018

While on the subject of NB-IoT, US telecoms company T-Mobile has promised to have a national network up and running by 2018.

The company conducted its first trials this summer in Las Vegas, and is set to switch on its first live commercial network in the coming months.

It added that because NB-IoT is built on the 3GPP industry standard and existing LTE infrastructure, it will help its network reach 5G. This will allow it to use a portion of its mother lode of 600MHz spectrum to deliver a 5G network from coast to coast by 2020.

“The duopoly’s networks are already congested – just look no further than Verizon’s recent changes to its unlimited plans,” said Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s CTO.

“And here’s my prediction: as we move toward 5G, they won’t have enough low-band spectrum to power smartphones and the massive world of IoT, leaving their customers in the lurch. We have different plans for T-Mobile customers.”

Industry quickly adopting AI into businesses

A recent study from Tata Consultancy Services into the current and future impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in businesses showed that the vast majority of more than 800 executives see it as crucial to their competitiveness by 2020.

80pc of executives in 13 industries currently invest in AI and almost 100pc plan to invest by 2020.

The insurance industry outspent 12 other verticals surveyed, investing on average $124m in AI systems, compared to a cross-industry average of $70m, while consumer packaged goods reported the second-most significant spend, at $95m.

The increase in spending is most dramatic among industries with the lowest current investment levels, including the travel, transport and hospitality industry, which plans to increase its spend by 750pc, from $4m in 2015, to $34m to 2020.

Tencent teaming up with Intel for blockchain over IoT

China’s internet powerhouse is teaming up with Intel to create a blockchain research partnership, with the aim of using it within the IoT space.

According to CoinDesk, a new R&D lab will be built in Wuxi in the Jiangsu province, and will combine Intel’s technology with Tencent’s security infrastructure to build IoT applications.

In April, Tencent released a whitepaper on blockchain technology, detailing some of the services it is currently working on.

It followed this up in June with an announcement that Bank of China will use Tencent’s technology as part of its own research efforts.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic