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HPE and Tata team for IoT network deal

Although Internet of Things technology is finding a place in industry, offices and power generation across the world there is still no clear winner in providing the networking technology to link the devices.

By John Oates

Part of the reason for this is that different IoT projects have very different networking demands – some need reliable but relatively slow speed connections to provide constant connectivity. Others require daily, hourly or event-driven fast speed links.

Additionally some applications require communication in both directions, some just need to collect data from the network.

Different vertical sectors also have varying needs to guarantee non-interference with existing networks – probably more important in offices and urban areas with lots of other networks than green field sites or environments with limited other wireless technology so that interference is easy to avoid.

Satisfying these different demands are various network technologies from traditional Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth connections, mobile networks to a variety of licensed and unlicensed radio standards.

Removing this barrier is likely to accelerate adoption of IoT technology.

HPE and Tata have done a deal to work together to develop Tata’s LoRa unlicensed radio network.

The network is up and running in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, which covers hundreds of millions of people. The network has 35 proof-of-concept applications running on it.

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LoRa provides machine-to-machine communications via a low power, bi-directional, secure network.

Tata has promised LoRa will cover 60 Indian cities by the end of 2017 and it expects to see international expansion for the network within two years.

HPE will provide management tools for enterprises wishing to use the network to run their own IoT applications.

HPE’s Universal IoT Platform will include increased LoRa gateway support, enabling the use of multiple LoRa gateways with a common set of applications to simplify device provisioning and control on the LoRa network.

This will allow Tata and its partners to create IoT applications for varying vertical industries using a common management system and a common data model.

Support for the varying networking technologies means one system will be capable of running very different devices.

For instance a logistics company might use devices which communicate using cellular networks to track fleet vehicle movements, while it might use Bluetooth or shorter range radio networks to collect data from sensors and devices within warehouses and offices.

As IoT technology matures there may be some focusing on certain networking technology. But because of the very different demands of different industries for different IoT applications it is likely that many projects will continue to use different networking technologies for different areas of the network for a long time to come.

This will require management tools which are agnostic as to what sort of network is used and is capable of dealing with several for even quite simple projects.

IoT devices function in a huge range of environments, from shop floors to farm fields. These environments all create very different requirements from the network they rely on for communication.

Tata Communications is part of the vast Tata Group. It has over 8, 500 staff around the world and provides communications for Formula1. It claims 24 per cent of the world’s internet routes use its network which carries 7600 petabytes of data each month.

Separately HPE will also work with Tata to develop its global cellular based IoT networking products. These work across international borders and are primarily aimed at applications which require mobility like connected cars, fleet management and other transport applications.

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