Ericsson and Korea’s SK Holdings C&C (parent company of SK Telecom) have signed a MoU to develop a global collaborative ICT ecosystem, covering global IoT platforms, emerging ICT services and convergence security solutions, but it’s hard to find much information about Ericsson’s IoT platforms.
Under the terms of the MoU, the two companies plan to jointly develop specialised IoT platforms for industry sectors including healthcare and transportation. According to Ericsson, “these efforts will leverage Ericsson’s global experience in delivering industry-leading solutions such as Volvo Cars’ Connected Vehicle Cloud and connected container-tracking systems for shipping company Maersk Line.”
The two companies say they will also explore opportunities relating to emerging ICT services such as global disaster recovery and IoT authentication in the Asia Pacific. A joint task force will be formed to develop business strategies that build on Ericsson’s network capabilities.
The MoU also covers collaboration in convergence security solutions, which are increasingly critical components in industry-grade IoT ecosystems. Ericsson will combine its network security technology with the data security capabilities of SK Holdings C&C’s Infosec unit and pursue broad cooperation in areas including convergence security services for global customers.
Ericsson president and CEO, Hans Vestberg, said: “Our IoT platform has opened up great opportunities for businesses across industries. We look forward to working together with SK Holdings C&C to build a strong ICT ecosystem to realise and capture the benefits of the networked society.”
What is Ericsson’s IoT platform?
If that’s the case, Ericsson is keeping these achievements close to its chest. We were able to find only one reference to the “IoT platform” on Ericsson’s web site, a post in the Ericsson Research Blog Distributed cloud for capillary networks from May 2015, which said it had been presented at Mobile World Congress and “has a strong focus on enabling cloud services for IoT devices.”
The post said: “A typical IoT device is a sensor that provides measurements describing, for example, the performance of a system or properties of the environment. Devices may also have actuators, such as motors, lights, and displays, to allow it interact with its surroundings. A large group of devices only offer short-range radio connectivity and our Capillary Network prototype aims to give these devices the same easy deployment, automatic configuration and security as we are used to for cellular devices. The IoT platform, which we presented in the Mobile World Congress 2015, has a strong focus on enabling cloud services for IoT devices.
The post went on to explain: “In the distributed cloud, the cloud services are not only able to run in a data centre, but also close to the device itself, for example in the gateways or in the radio base stations,” (this sounds like edge computing or Cisco’s fog computing by another name). It then gave three examples of IoT applications where running cloud services close to the network edge would be appropriate and said: “At the Mobile World Congress, we presented the distributed cloud concept in the form of a simple control application for agriculture, where irrigation and greenhouse lights are controlled by input from temperature, humidity and light sensors in the field.”
Capillary networks take cellular to IoT devices
It referenced an earlier post from March 2015 Evolved Capillary Networks, which explained: “Many [IoT] devices need to have minimal power consumption and low complexity, yet still be globally reachable. For example, a temperature sensor in a remote forest or in a rice field needs to run several years without changing batteries; a connected light switch needs to be very simple. These small devices can be connected using capillary gateways, which bridge the short-range radio technologies – e.g. Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigbee – used by the device to cellular networks which provide long-range connectivity. We demoed this capillary networks concept for the first time at the Mobile World Congress 2014.”
This concept would likely have high appeal to mobile network operators. Despite developments like LTE-M, designed to evolve LTE to be more suited to IoT applications, and 5G which is being developed from the outset to cater for IoT, cellular is seen as being ill-suited to the minimal power, minimal complexity requirements of many IoT applications which are likely to favour new long range low power wide area networks like LoRaWAN and Sigfox.
IoT platforms a $3.4b market by 2020
Ericsson also talked, in a June 2105 press release of an M2M connectivity management platform, which seems to be related to its IoT platform. The press release announced that Ericson was providing Canadian telco Sasktel with “Ericsson Device Connection Platform (DCP) as a service” and quoted Angel Ruiz, head of Ericsson Region North America, saying: “Ericsson’s platform on which the SaskTel subscription service is based has been successfully integrated and deployed worldwide with multiple leading carriers.”
The release also said: “Global IoT platform revenues are forecasted to grow at a rate of over 30 percent per year to approximately $C3.3 billion ($A3.4b) in 2020.”