M1 rolls out S-E Asia's first commercial nationwide IoT network

The premises of M1 Limited at 10 International Business Park: PHOTO: M1
The premises of M1 Limited at 10 International Business Park: PHOTO: M1

Telco M1 launched South-east Asia's first commercial wireless network dedicated to machine- to-machine communication on Monday.

It said the initiative will further enable Singapore's growing adoption of connected devices, while also easing the burden on networks used for phone calls and mobile web surfing.

The new nationwide system, known as a narrow-band Internet of Things network, is akin to the 4G mobile networks most Singaporeans are familiar with, except that it is used exclusively by devices such as sensors, tracking gadgets or smart-home appliances.

Currently, smart devices connect to the same networks that consumers do.

One of the first users of M1's network will be electricity retailer Keppel Electric, which intends to deploy smart web-connected meters to customers.

The new power and water meters will be quicker to deploy as they will not require power cables to be set up first, unlike existing meters.

They will also provide residents with information about their power usage.

These meters can also send information through this network in real time, which can lead to extra features such as being able to isolate malfunctioning household appliances.

M1 chief executive Karen Kooi said at a launch ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental hotel that the new network "will accelerate our journey into a digital society".

"The Internet of Things will open up an incredible array of fresh opportunities and innovation," she said.

"We look forward to working closely with government agencies, technology partners and customers to enable smart solutions for everything and everyone," she added.

M1's network is expected to be used by industries such as environmental monitoring, vehicle and fleet tracking, waste management and commercial retailers.

SmartCity Solutions, for example, has developed sensors attached to garbage bins that monitor the amount of rubbish inside. When the rubbish hits a certain level, the sensor sends a warning to a central system, which then automatically informs a cleaner that the bin needs emptying.

Devices that communicate on this new network will not be competing with consumer devices so they will be able to send updates more frequently and use less power, which saves on manpower and replacement costs.

Rival telco Singtel also announced on Monday that it is rolling out its own cellular IoT network at the end of next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'M1 rolls out S-E Asia's first commercial nationwide IoT network'. Print Edition | Subscribe