Sunday, July 24, 2016

Farewell to the ITRS semiconductor roadmap

This month saw the last report of the international technology roadmap for semiconductors, the official publication that tracked the march of Moore's Law over the last 25 years. 
 
By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

The final installment highlights the challenges over the next 15 years as the advances of silicon technology become more difficult to maintain. With 7nm systems being produced this year, that's still quite a long way to go, and there are major challenge such as extreme ultraviolet (EUV) that have still to be addressed.

That is to to say its the end of the silicon business. If anything, the roll out of the Internet of Things and mass data centres demonstrates the longevity of silicon as the substrate of the modern world. Imagine what you could do in ten years' time with 7nm or 5nm silicon providing with billions of transistors for a dollar. Radio integration and power consumption will still be a major challenge.

But the ITRS will no longer be tracking these developments directly. “For a quarter-century, the Roadmap has been an important guidepost for evaluating and advancing semiconductor innovation,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO of Semiconductor Industry Association. “The latest and final installment provides key findings about the future of semiconductor technology and serves as a useful bridge to the next wave of semiconductor research initiatives.”
While the final ITRS report charts a path for existing technology research, additional research is needed for that transition to an even more connected world, enabled by innovations like IoT where it is the integration and co-existence of technologies that is the challenge rather than the sheer performance. Some of these technology challenges were outlined in a recent SIA-Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) report, “Rebooting the IT Revolution."

Data from the report highlights the need for that reboot. For example, it sees data centres having nearly 5m cores by 2021, doubling to over 10m by 2029, with significant increases in memory storage and networking performance and power consumption. But this may well start to be overtaken by photonics and quantum computing within that time. 
Predictions for data centre growth to 2029 Source: ITRS

“SIA appreciates the hard work, dedication, and expertise of those involved with the ITRS over the years and looks forward to continuing the industry’s work to strengthen semiconductor research and maintain the pipeline of semiconductor innovations that fuel the digital economy,” said Neuffer.

Key learning points from the report will be on the Embedded blog in the coming days. 

Energy harvesting IoT market to break $1.5bn by 2022

The market for energy harvesting devices in the wireless sensor networks is expected to grow 19% a year by 2022 to reach $1576.9m.

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

The data comes from a new report from Research & Markets that looks at the different sensor options such as temperature, pressure, flow, level, humidity, position and motion & infrared, as well as the different harvesting technologies such as light, vibration and thermal energy.

Microchip's solar energy harvesting development  kit for wireless sensor nodes in the Internet of Things

All of this is being driven by the demand for safe and durable power sources and the increasing implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) for building automation. The report looks at building & home automation, industrial, transportation infrastructure, railways, aerospace, automotive, and security. The building and home automation segment is expected to hold the leading position by 2022 in the energy harvesting for wireless sensor network market.

You might also like: Microchip adds independent peripherals to PIC32

The growth of the building and home automation application is prominent in North America and Europe owing to the growing adoption of smart homes and also that of energy harvesting systems.

The geographic segmentation categorizes the market on the basis of the main geographic regions into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific (APAC), and Rest of the World (RoW). North America is expected to hold the leading position by 2022 owing to the growing building automation and smart home market in countries such as the U.S. and Canada. Europe has the second-highest rate of installation of wireless sensor network with energy harvesting systems in new building constructions and for industrial automation.

The report includes coverage of key embedded technology companies such as ABB (Switzerland), Convergence Wireless (U.S.), Cymbet (U.S.), EnOcean (Germany), Fujitsu (Japan), Honeywell (U.S.), Microchip Technology (U.S.), STMicroelectronics (Switzerland), Cypress Semiconductor, Linear Technology (U.S.) and Lord Microstrain (U.S.).

Top embedded stories this week

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Unsurprisingly the ARM takeover by SoftBank has seen significant interest this week, and there will be more on this story in the coming days, but the interest in Microchip's new independent peripherals for its MIPS-based PIC32 continues to be a significant story.
Facebook solving one of the key challenges in free space optics for its plans to provide Internet access from high altitude unmanned aircraft (design and built in the SouthWest UK!) has also been popular, while the impact of IoT continues to be felt in many different areas. This time it is the processing requirements in the data centre that are feeling the pressure, and software defined power is increasingly important as a key embedded technology to balance the load between servers in innovative ways.

Posts this week:


Friday, July 22, 2016

LoRa module shrinks in size for the IoT

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Murata has launched a a compact standalone module that can easily connect devices to the Internet of things (IoT) via a LoRaWAN low power sub-GHz network.

The standalone compact module measures just 12.5 x 11.6 x 1.76 mm, is constructed in a metal shielded package and combines a Semtech SX1276 ultra long range spread spectrum wireless transceiver and an STMicro STM32L0 series ARM Cortex M0+ 32 bit microcontroller (MCU). An integrated TCXO that has robust low drift thermal characteristics provides an accurate clock source for the RF transceiver.


Communication with the module can be achieved via UART, SPI, or I2C peripheral interfaces. An ADC and up to 18 GPIOs provide plenty of flexibility for connecting sensors, switches and status LEDs, and the module is powered from a 2.2 to 3.6 VDC supply. The module has pre-certified radio regulatory approvals for operating in the 868 and 915 MHz industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) spectrum in most geographical regions of the world, making it easy to add to a design. Typical applications include smart metering, wearables, tracking, M2M and internet of things (IoT) edge nodes as the module can operate from – 40 to + 85 degrees C.

The normal output power is + 14 dBm but a power amplifier (PA) boost function can be selected to increase RF output to + 20dBm for long range applications or those where the end-device is sited in a poor signal location indoors.

The MCU includes 192 kB flash and 20 kB RAM, and has enough memory to embed customer applications and host other modulation stacks. In addition, an optional STSAFE secure element can be incorporated into the MCU to enhance the network security capabilities.

"We're excited to welcome a leader in wireless modules such as Murata into the LoRa ecosystem," said Marc Pegulu, Vice President and General Manager of Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Product Group. "Since Murata joined the LoRa Alliance, our teams have worked together to design a cost-effective, small form factor LoRaWAN module capable of supporting a wide range of sensors. We are confident Murata's new wireless module should help increase the adoption of the LoRaWAN platform worldwide, helping to make it the standard for LPWANs supporting low power IoT applications."

Mass production of the CMWX1ZZABZ-078 module will commence in October 2016.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Plastic fibres solve Facebook's airborne data problem

Back in 2014, Facebook and Google were fighting to buy a UK company called Ascenta that was developing a high altitude unmanned aircraft that could be used to provide Internet access around the world as aerial basestations. While Facebook won that battle (Google bought Titan Aerospace instead), both face the challenge of maintaining high speed data links at 60,000ft, both to other aircraft and to the ground.

Current 'free space optics' systems can be heavy and need to be steered to maintain a link. Now researchers at the Connectivity Lab have shown a new, passive approach that would work over long distances providing over 2Gbit/s of data, which is detailed at EETimes Europe.
Doped plastic fibres can capture free space laser signals

Instead of using optics to focus the light, the researchers have used plastic fibres doped with a fluorescent organic dye as the receptor. This can detect the light coming in from the free space link and convert it to a different frequency within the fibre. This signal can then be captured by a traditional high speed photomultiplier. 

This light collector features 126 sq cm of surface that can collect light from any direction, and, crucially, doesn’t need to be steered. This provides a lightweight, simpler receiver. 

“This approach has been used in luminescent concentrators for solar light harvesting, where the speed of the color conversion doesn’t matter. We showed that the same concept can be used for communication to circumvent pointing and tracking problems while accomplishing very high speeds," said Tobias Tiecke, who leads the research team. 

The initial system uses green and blue light, and the next challenge is to find materials that fluoresce in response to the near infra red light that would be coming from a laser on another aircraft or from the ground. Using ODFM modulation alongside near IR would boost the performance to 10Gbit/s, says Tiecke, which would be an elegant solution to the problem.

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Monday, July 18, 2016

SoftBank looks to ARM to take IoT into the enterprise

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Having tracked ARM and the embedded semiconductor since it started, today's £24bn takeover by Japanese services company Softbank didn't really make much sense.

SoftBank says it believes ARM is one of the world’s leading technology companies, with strong capabilities in global semiconductor intellectual property and the “Internet of Things” (IoT), and a proven track record of innovation, which is very true. After all, ARM has successfully built a differentiated position as the world’s leading semiconductor intellectual property supplier, with a core competency in scalable, highly energy-efficient processors and related technology. Its technology is embedded in more than 95 per cent. of smart phones and over 30 per cent. of all chips with processors sold worldwide in 2015. Over 85 billion systems-on-chip have been shipped to date based on ARM’s technology.

Yes, ARM-based chips dominate the mobile phone business and the company was an early starter in the IoT business through its low power and existing software development eco-system, and its security expertise will be increasingly important. But why was Softbank willing to pay 40% over the highest value ARM had ever seen (which was in March last year)? The ownership of the Sprint network in the US is seen as one factor now that it is showing signs of recovery, bundling cellular services with IoT equipment in the US, but is that enough? Not really.

The key section of the deal document shows SoftBank’s deep industry expertise and global network of relationships will accelerate adoption of ARM’s intellectual property across existing and new markets. SoftBank intends to sustain ARM’s long-term focus on generating more value per device and driving licensing wins and future royalty streams in new growth categories, specifically “Enterprise and Embedded Intelligence”.

So it is the enterprise, where Softbank has large and valuable contracts, that will be the focus, with more ARM-based systems being specified in the billions. All the data that is captured gives this high valuation, and Softbank's expertise is in handling that kind of business data. So the ARM devices are the on-ramp to the data highway (yes, that shows my age!) for Softbank.

That's good news for ARM. The existing senior management team will stay in place, with funding to double the number of staff in the UK over the next five years, and increase staff in the rest of the world, which I would expect to be led by Japan following the joint venture announcement last with with Aeris, a pioneer in the IoT market. The joint venture, Aeris Japan K.K., will provide IoT and telematics services globally using the Aeris IoT platform.

This is aimed at enterprise users, with the AerPort connectivity management platform, AerCloud applications enablement platform, AerCore IoT network and AerVoyance IoT analytics platform. With more than 7.5 million devices under management, Aeris is already one of the largest IoT service providers in the world, and the SoftBank deal provides the resources to expand into India, Europe and the United States, covering multiple market segments and offering a variety of services ranging from an IoT connectivity platform to IoT application middleware to complete IoT solutions for market segments including telematics in the automotive industry.

Machina Research predicts IoT will account for one quarter of the global 41 million 5G connections in 2024. Japan and Korea will lead the charge and embedded factory-fit connected cars will be the biggest IoT application, according to Machina Research. Japan will lead the Asia-Pacific region’s market growth for industrial IoT, which is expected to be worth $54 billion by 2020, according to tech research firm Technavio.

Aeris also delivers an end-to-end IoT technology platform, which enables faster time-to-market for enterprises. Security is a priority for Aeris, which offers enterprises and mobile network operators an end-to-end solution ranging from connectivity services to data analytics and applications, and early access to ARM's security technology such as TrustZone will boost is competitiveness.
This also sees ARM's technology driving further into automotive telematics, as Aeris has a telematics solution for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including a full suite of driver, dealer and OEM services.

The great thing for ARM is that SoftBank doesn't compete with any of its semiconductor partners. But its probably not such good news for Renesas, which was the major competitor to ARM in Japan after having brought together the chip arms of Hitachi and Mitsubishi.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Nordic Semi backs low power cellular standards for IoT

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

In a major boost to the future of cellular connection for the Internet of Things, one of the most innovative chip suppliers is backing the new LTE-M and LTE-NB standards.

Nordic Semiconductor is already a leading provider of ultra-low power wireless chips for stadnards such as Bluetooth with ten years of experience. It is developing a low power LTE technology for cellular IoT, recruiting an experienced group of cellular R&D engineers in Finland who were formerly employed by the Finnish arms of Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, and Broadcom.


“Looking almost two years back we spotted a unique opportunity: the emergence of low power LTE technologies and at the same time the recruitment opportunity of a pool of talented and experienced cellular engineers in Finland,” said Svein-Egil Nielsen, CTO of Nordic Semiconductor. “In wireless, LTE is about as complex and specialized as it gets. There is probably only a handful of teams in the world with the capability and track record to develop and deploy such a technology. We have one of those teams and as a company our objective is to shape the future of low power cellular IoT in the exactly the same way we did for ultra-low power wireless and Bluetooth low energy.”

Nordic expects to sample the first nRF91 Series solutions to selected lead customers second half of 2017, and it will be very interesting to see the design tradeoffs they make. Broad availability and production ramp will follow in 2018.



Low power cellular IoT is positioning itself to be widely adopted in numerous markets and applications including, for example, smart utility metering, asset and people (e.g. child) tracking, fleet management, buildings security and safety, remote maintenance, smart vending machines, retail, healthcare and medical monitoring, real-time traffic monitoring, wearables, in-door and out-door GPS navigation, smart home technology, automotive (for customized insurance based on actual driving data), and industrial and agricultural automation.

Nordic Semiconductor’s roadmap includes highly integrated chipsets and advanced software for the forthcoming 3GPP Release 13 LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular technologies. Highly optimized for power and size, the upcoming Nordic Semiconductor nRF91 Series is designed specifically to address the needs of emerging low power cellular IoT applications, including long battery life, low cost deployment and maintenance, scalability for potentially billions of devices, a miniaturized form-factor that can fit almost anywhere, and ubiquitous network coverage.

LTE-M and NB-IoT are specified by the 3GPP to provide low power, secure, reliable, future-proofed, open standard and interoperable cellular connectivity for cost, size, and power-constrained IoT applications. The two technologies are set to drive breadth and growth for the emerging cellular IoT market projected to surpass 1.5 billion connections by 2021. Nordic expects broad coverage for the technologies in the 2018-2019 timeframe, with initial coverage starting in 2017.

Complementing Nordic’s industry-leading product range and roadmap for short-range ULP wireless semiconductor technology, the expanded product roadmap for long-range, low power wireless is part of the company's strategy to target new high growth markets with its proven wireless connectivity and embedded processing technology, and extensive R&D expertise.

“We are very excited to unveil our roadmap for cellular IoT,” said Svenn-Tore Larsen, CEO of Nordic Semiconductor. “The combination of our ultra-low power wireless DNA and unique cellular expertise in Finland puts Nordic in a strong position to drive and fuel the market for low power cellular IoT. For us this roadmap is about taking Nordic Semiconductor as a company to the next level by providing scale for our technology, and on-going organizational and R&D investments.”

“We believe that the cellular IoT market is still in its infancy and that the new low power LTE technology variants will drive a massive growth curve in many ways similar to what Bluetooth low energy is doing for short-range wireless,” adds Thomas Embla Bonnerud, Director of Product Management with Nordic Semiconductor. “Some years down the road this market is going to look very, very different compared to how it looks today. That is what the Nordic Semiconductor nRF91 Series is all about: a new and different solution for a new and different market.”

www.nordicsemi.com

Monday, July 11, 2016

Reinventing MIPS as an open source chip venture

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

I've championed open source hardware over the years (which tells you it has been tried quite a few times before) but the latest family of system-on-chip designs from SiFive looks somewhat like the re-birth of MIPS as an open source play.

The Freedom family of SoC platforms launched by SiFive uses the free and open RISC-V architecture and ecosystem that its founders also developed at the University of California (sound familiar at all?). This, they say, will democratise access to custom, state-of-the-art semiconductors. The devices are being built on 28nm for a 64bit multicore Linix implementation, so not that state-of-the-art, or 180nm for the 32bit low cost IoT market with various peripherals. Hmmmm.
The U500 64bit multicore open source processor from SiFive 
You might also like: Microchip adds independent peripherals to PIC32

The Freedom platforms (which unfortunately is reminiscent of Freedom Fries) comprise a complete software specification, board OS support packages (BSPs) which is good, development boards and base silicon. The platforms provide customers the ability to create their own silicon enhancements and customisations, which SiFive then quickly incorporates and delivers to the customer at a much lower cost and faster time-to-market than traditional custom silicon designs. They say this also provides significant performance and power advantages over existing microcontrollers and FPGAs, which is true but also a benefit delivered by many other custom and semi-custom design houses.

"The semiconductor industry is at an important crossroads. Moore's Law has ended, and the traditional economic model of chip building no longer works," said Yunsup Lee, co-founder of SiFive and one of the original creators of RISC-V. "Unless you have tens — if not hundreds — of millions of dollars, it is simply impossible for smaller system designers to get a modern, high-performance chip, much less one customized to their unique requirements."

There's quite a lot of design houses that would contradict this - I write about many of them here (!) -  but it gets the message out there. But what it does do it fragment the MIPS market even further than it is already.

The founders say RISC-V was born from the dire need to address the skyrocketing cost of designing and manufacturing increasingly complex new chip architectures. SiFive's hardware designs make use of software and tools available from the open-source community under the guidance of the RISC-V Foundation, which reduces the cost of developing custom silicon. System designers can use the SiFive Freedom platforms to focus on their own differentiated processor without having the overhead of developing a modern SoC, fabric or software infrastructure.

"RISC-V represents a bold new path for system designers in embedded and industrial markets," said Ted Speers, head of product architecture and planning for Microsemi Corporation's SoC business unit, which has produced some development boards for SiFive. "We went to SiFive not only because its co-founders created RISC-V, but also due to its team's agile methodology, which enabled the company to deliver a complete RISC-V sub-system and tool-chain targeting our secure, low power SmartFusion2 SoC FPGA platform on a very aggressive schedule."

The two platforms are: 

Freedom U500 Series with a fully Linux-capable embedded application processor with multicore RISC-V CPUs, running at a speed of 1.6 GHz or higher with support for accelerators and cache coherency. Designed in TSMC 28nm, the Freedom U500 platform targets initial customers in diverse markets such as machine learning, storage and networking. The Freedom U500 platform also supports standard high-speed peripherals including PCIe 3.0, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and DDR3/DDR4.

The E300 series of open source 32bit microcontroller
 using the RISC-V instruction set architecture 
 The Freedom E300 Series (above) is designed for embedded microcontroller, IoT and wearables markets. Designed in TSMC 180nm and architected to have minimal area and power, the Freedom E300 platform features the world's most efficient RISC-V cores with support for RISC-V compressed instructions, which have been shown to reduce code size by up to 30 percent.

All this is very reminiscent of the MIPS roadmap, and under Imagination Technologies the architecture was available as open source.

To give developers a head start on software development, full FPGA models of each SoC are available through SiFive so they can prototype their customisations in the form of custom RISC-V instructions, accelerators and co-processors. For more information, including how to purchase development boards with the Microsemi SmartFusion2 SoC FPGA, please visit dev.sifive.com.

SiFive will showcase the Freedom family of SoC platforms during the RISC-V 4th Workshop in Boston on Tuesday, July 12.

www.sifive.com

Altair uses software defined radio for dual mode LTE-M IoT chipset

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Altair Semiconductor, recently bought by Sony, has launched a new embedded chipset that will enable lower cost cellular connections for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The dual-mode FourGee-1210 CAT-1/CAT-M chipset will be available later this year, enabling a smooth transition to the next standard of Cellular IoT networks through a software defined radio architecture.




While CAT-1 chipsets have been deployed around the world for a wide range of IoT applications, both carriers and vendors have been pursuing the emerging CAT-M (CAT-M1) and NB-IoT (CAT-NB1) standards that offer extended coverage and battery life. Altair believes there will be a lengthy transition period until there exists sufficient coverage and standards maturity to enable complete conversion to CAT-M and NB-IoT and a CAT-1 option will be needed until the ecosystem is ready to fully adopt these standards.

"Like any migration to a new cellular network, the complex transition from CAT-1 to CAT-M will take time and could potentially delay carrier and vendor rollouts," said Eran Eshed, Co-Founder and VP of Worldwide Sales and Marketing for Altair. "Altair's FourGee-1210 chipset will facilitate a smooth migration to CAT-M adoption, providing the ecosystem with the combined solution it needs for the next 18-24 months."

The single receiver handles both CAT-1 and CAT-M with a seamless switchover and low bill-of-materials cost, as well as low power consumption. Altair has also built in a Software Defined Radio (SDR) feature to allow over-the-air firmware upgrades (FOTA) to accommodate new versions of the CAT-M standard.

The FourGee-1210 chipset will reach the market by the end of 2016 alongside the projected launch of the first CAT-M networks.
http://www.altair-semi.com 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Monday, July 04, 2016

South Korea gives away IoT modules as it cuts its monthly data plans by 90%

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

SK Telecom has rolled out a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) across 99% of South Korea to drive applications in the Internet of Things by cutting prices to 10% of the LTE version and giving away 100,000 modules.

The company finished building LoRaWAN across the country by end of June, six months earlier than its initial schedule, covering 99 percent of the population alongside an LTE-M network. 

To promote the growth of the IoT market, SK Telecom plans to offer attractive price plans and develop innovative IoT services, while offering strong support for SMEs. To this end, the company will invest £660m (KRW100bn) by the end of 2017. It expects these efforts to lead to rapid expansion of the IoT industry by connecting over 4 million things to its IoT-dedicated networks by the end of 2017. 

SK Telecom unveiled new price plans for LoRaWAN-based IoT services from just 35cents for Band IoT 35 (KRW 350) to Band IoT 200 priced at KRW 2,000 (approx. US$1.75) - depending on data use.

The Band Lora plans are one tenth of SK Telecom’s LTE-based IoT services and are expected to support active development and provision of diverse IoT services by easing the cost burden of startups and SMEs. The company is also offering diverse discount benefits for enterprise customers depending on their contract period and the number of lines they use.

Table 1: Band LoRa Plans
Price Plan
Data Allowance*
(Frequency of communication)
Monthly Flat Rate
(ex VAT)
Examples of Services
Note
Band IoT 35
100KB
KRW 350
Metering and monitoring services (e.g. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), environmental monitoring, water leakage monitoring, etc.) 
- Discount benefits for long-term contracts: Ranging from a 5% discount for two-year contracts to a 20% discount for 5 year-contracts
- Multi-line discount: Ranging from a 2% discount for those using 500 lines to a 10% discount to those who use 10,000 lines
Band IoT 50
500KB
KRW 500
Band IoT 70
3MB
KRW 700
Tracking services (e.g. locating tracking
For people/things, asset management, etc.)
Band IoT 100
10MB
KRW 1,000
Band IoT 150
50MB
KRW 1,500
Control service
(e.g. safety management, lighting control, shared parking, etc.)
Band IoT 200
100MB
KRW 2,000
*Data usage exceeding the data allotment provided will be charged at KRW 0.005 per 0.5KB.

For instance, a gas meter, which transmits relatively a small amount of data can be used by signing up for Band IoT 35, while a service that requires real-time communication like lighting control service can be used by signing up for Band IoT 200.

LoRa  Roadmap

SK Telecom plans to develop LoRa services in metering, tracking and monitoring.

The company is currently focusing on Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which enables the utilities companies to not only accurately measure/monitor usage but also control the metering devices. SK Telecom has been conducting a pilot project on AMI with SK E&S since November 2015, and plans to expand the service coverage to more regions of the country in July 2016. Going forward, the company will launch AMI services for other utilities including water and electricity.

SK Telecom is also developing in tracking services to identify and track the location of vehicles, people/things, and assets. In cooperation with the local governments, the company plans to launch “Safe Watch,” a wearable designed to enhance the safety of children and the elderly in July 2016.

The company will also offer monitoring services capable of controlling and managing manufacturing/public/commercial facilities. For instance, monitoring service for a company that has a large-scale production facility will ensure that the equipment within the facility are operated in an optimal manner and the production environment is kept safe at all times. Environmental monitoring of CO2 concentration, temperature/humidity, as well as hazardous substances – e.g., measuring concentration levels of radon in the atmosphere and soil – can also be provided. 

Furthermore, the company plans to launch a total of 20 LoRa-based IoT services by the end of 2016, including a manhole monitoring service (in September) and a real-time shared parking service (in October).

Partner Hub Program

As part of the stimulation of the eco-system, the company is setting up a ‘Partner Hub Programme’ to create an ‘IoT Open Testbed’ for SMEs and startups at its Bundang building. This will offer a one-stop development environment with the network, device and platform for IoT services so that SMEs and startups will be able to verify their IoT devices, carry out tests to check interworking between their device and the IoT network/platform, and receive technical/service consultation.

SK Telecom also began providing LoRa modules free of charge on July 1, 2016. Aimed at facilitating the development and launch of LoRa services, the company will provide a total of 100,000 units of LoRa modules for free. Also, the low cost of the LoRa module – which is just one-fifth of that of an existing LTE module – will contribute to the development of the wide variety of IoT devices.

“SK Telecom is proud to announce the nationwide deployment of LoRaWAN as it marks the first important step towards realizing connectivity between infinite number of things, going beyond the traditional role of telecommunications centered on connectivity between people,” said Lee Hyung-hee, President of Mobile Network Business at SK Telecom. “Going forward, SK Telecom will develop and offer a wide variety of IoT services designed to offer new value for customers, while working closely with partners including SMEs and startups to vitalize the IoT ecosystem.”

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