Ten cities in the UK, including London, Manchester and Birmingham, can start deploying Internet of Things (IoT) projects after a network to facilitate the transmission of data from IoT sensors was switched on.
The network was built by Arqiva and uses the 868MHz range, which requires no licence to use. This means that devices can be quickly and easily deployed and then start transmitting data. The company started building the network in May.
Arqiva has partnered with a French company called SigFox which specialises in building sensors that work on this frequency.
The sensors are ideal for long-term IoT projects they can transmit over long distances and have a battery life of between 15 and 20 years.
Organisations can select the sort of sensors they need for various projects, such as monitoring the weight of bins to know when they need emptying, or tracking the location of a pallet of goods.
Most of the sensors cost just a few pounds to buy, and incur only a small annual communications cost.
Sean Weir, business development director for smart and M2M at Arqiva, told V3 that the company is seeing increasing interest in the capabilities of this technology as a result of these benefits.
“We are seeing quite a lot of interest from areas like healthcare and logistics, as people start to consider tracking relatively small assets, as the network is low cost and efficient to use,” he said.
“We are at something of a tipping point where IoT is really going to take off, so as networks go live we should see more activity over the next few months.”
Weir also noted that the SigFox network is already in place in Europe, offering the ability to track items and send information from outside the UK, which would be a massive plus for firms in areas like logistics.
The London deployment has taken place in Greenwich, which will also be home to driverless car trials in 2015.
Denise Hylan, leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said that it was another coup for the area and one it would seek to use.
“Greenwich recognises that all the UK’s leading cities are engaged in a global competition and that cities with a clear vision for the digital economy will be in a stronger position,” she added.
“This technology will help cities tackle economic and social challenges and will help solve issues like traffic congestion as well as enhancing security and making heating and lighting more efficient.”
Glasgow, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Leicester and Sheffield are the other cities where the network has been built out, and Weir said that more work will take place in the next few months to widen the scope of these networks.
The announcement from Arqiva comes at the same time that Intel announced its IoT Platform.
This is an end-to-end reference model intended to make it easier for firms to deploy an IoT solution and create building blocks that can be reused as part of an IoT ecosystem.