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Monday, March 20, 2017

ZTE pushes LPWAN for large scale IoT deployments

By Nick Flaherty

ZTE is pushing low power wide area network technologies for the Internet of the Things. It has teamed up with the China LoRa Application Alliance (CLAA) to launch a shared, co-built carrier-class IoT network.

It has also launched the second generation of its Smart Street LPWAN network technology for smart city applications.
The CLAA deal provides an industrial grade IoT gateway and cloud-based core network, long range/low power (LoRa) chips/modules, intelligent IoT terminals and mature solutions together with 3D dynamic joint service provision. This is aimed at providing access over the last kilometre with low power consumption, low costs and long-distance deep coverage.

Since its foundation at the end of January 2016, the ZTE-initiated CLAA has developed into an alliance with over 500 members, displaying exceptionally fast growth. Its members include not only network enterprises which manufacture chips, devices, platforms, antennas and batteries, but also a large number of application vendors around the world with considerable experience in the metering, industry park, municipal administration, industry, energy and agriculture fields, which can boost the LoRa industry through many applications. 

The CLAA has built a technology exchange platform, solution verification platform, market cooperation platform, resource interconnection platform and innovation incubation platform for Chinese LoRa applications. It has certified over 80 products from enterprises in the alliance, released more than 50 application types and launched 30 demonstrative bases for CLAA IoT applications.

In addition to its deployments in the industrial chain ecosphere, ZTE is testing a new business and cooperation model in the LPWAN area, the CLAA network operates in an open, close-looped, shared and co-built way, and all CLAA members are builders, operators, users and application developers of the network. The CLAA has a unified and standard LoRa gateway, which enables standard hardware from different types of vendors to access a network and be shared.

ZTE has carried out trial operations in many cities, and has now entered the phase of large-scale commercial use of IoT. More than 30 smart meter enterprises have joined the alliance and support the CLAA agreement, and over 80 percent of mainstream gas meter enterprises are formal members of the CLAA. For digital oil fields, ZTE and a number of enterprises in the alliance jointly launched a LoRa technology–based production monitoring system, which can implement remote intelligent data collection and control. Compared with traditional models, this system has slashed the comprehensive construction cost and has been demonstrated in a large oil field deployment.

Smart Street 2.0 combines IoT, cloud computing platform and Big Data technologies for key services such as parking and lighting. 

“ZTE’s Smart Street 2.0 is an innovative solution for unified, intelligent and efficient street management and administration in the era of Smart City” said Yang Jun, VP of ZTE. “It modernises the street fabric and transforms the obsolete mechanism of street administration by using LPWAN technologies to improve quality of public services. The solution integrates streets’ physical infrastructure to cut costs, improve management efficiency of municipal & city governments and provides citizens with convenience and colourful experiences.”

The heart of the Smart Street 2.0 solution is the centralised ‘street command & control centre, which acts as the main back-end hub for the street applications. It interacts with smart street IoT infrastructure and collects data from the sub-systems. It then uses a Big Data analytics engine to interact with citizens via a smart phone app to provide notifications, guidance, navigation and smart routing information. It also collects payment fees for smart parking as well as other fee collections, such as traffic violation ticket charges through online payment services.

Functions like smart parking shows the real-time acquisition of available parking spaces in the street and in the vicinity of drivers, providing navigation and online payment fee facility. Smart street lights operate intelligently based on factors such as the time of the day, natural light conditions and weather. The automatic sensor technology script in the street command and control centre helps to automatically switch lights on and off or brighten/dim as per the real-time environmental conditions, natural requirements and street activity. 

Smart street LED displays can show weather, temperature, noise and other important information and can also be used for displaying public information and advertisements. The sensors also sense the volume of waste and report to the back-end system. When 80 percent capacity is reached, an automatic ‘waste pickup signal’ is sent to the back-end system, which in turn notifies the trash truck driver. It also navigates the waste collection vehicle driver to the pickup points using the most efficient route, creating a dynamic schedule for multiple waste collections in the area.

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