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Nokia launches Impact IoT platform, targets smart homes too

Nokia recently made its move into the smart healthcare and wearables markets through the acquisition of Withings, and now the Finnish firm has further expanded its portfolio with the launch of a white-label smart home system and network management platform, as it strives to become a major player in the IoT.

The Nokia Smart Home product offering includes a central hub which functions as an network terminal and residential gateway which includes dual-band concurrent WiFi and beamforming – a companion to 4×4 MIMO tech which enhances WiFi performance. Two mobile apps are available on iOS and Android for controlling the various smart home devices – but exactly what the differing functions of the two separate apps are hasn’t been made abundantly clear.

While there’s no doubt that Nokia is making some wise strategic moves to diversify its business and expand its networking portfolio, the smart home market has plateaued as operators have so-far struggled to win over customers with bundled offerings. However, Nokia will be looking to change that with its roll-off-the-tongue 7368 ISAM ONT G240 WZ-A smart home hub – and it claims the smart home market will grow to $39 billion by 2020.

In more Nokia news, the company has joined the 400-member Z-Wave Alliance and will implement the Z-Wave wireless IoT smart home platform. Z-Wave operates in the 900MHz spectrum, has a range of about 40 meters and a maximum of 232 nodes, whereas rival low power wireless standard ZigBee works at 2.4GHz with a range of roughly 50 meters. Z-Wave still trails behind ZigBee quite significantly in terms of shipments but the two have around the same number of members in their respective alliances.

It’s also worth noting that these two veterans of low power mesh networking technologies have their work cut out to fight off the emergence of Bluetooth’s mesh networking implementation, as well as the entrance of Thread – the Nest (Google) backed 802.15.4 variant. Z-Wave, ZigBee and WiFi boast a dominant 66% share of smart devices shipped so far this year, according to ABI Research.

Nokia isn’t just limiting its IoT networking portfolio to inside the walls of the home though, as it has also announced the launch of the Intelligent Management Platform for All Connected Things (IMPACT) for M2M connections. This spans data collection, event processing, device management, data contextualization, end to end security, and applications enablement.

The Impact platform is secured with the latest Lightweight M2M security model, and also includes a revamped version of Nokia’s Motive Connected Device Platform (CDP) which it says support over 80,000 devices and has connected more than 1.5 billion device units. Frank Ploumen, Nokia’s IoT product strategy director noted that Impact allows customers to take a “mix and match” approach to selecting services depending on the existing third-party components in place.

But Ploumen is being refreshingly realistic in his stance on the market, “at the same time, we are also agnostic to the fact there’s a lot of IoT devices already in the field, and they may or may not try to implement the new protocol.”

An operator partner of Nokia that has been revealed this week is Telekom Austria, which is working towards rolling out NB-IoT technology in its M2M strategy. NB-IoT networks haven’t yet seen any deployments but the technology is expected to make an appearance sometime next year. Telekom Austria says the network will enable solutions with just a software upgrade.

Peter Wukowits, Country Senior Officer Austria and Head of Central Europe, Nokia, added: “IoT devices could make up to 6.8 trillion daily connection requests by 2020. Our joint demonstration of NB-IoT clearly shows the potential of this technology for managing this immense volume of connections.”

“With the rapid growth of IoT and increasing number of smart devices in the home, residential customers are seeking a single solution that is simple to install and easy to manage,” said Federico Guillén, Nokia’s Fixed Networks President.

“In a very fragmented market, network operators have a unique opportunity to stand out from other OTT players and position themselves as the smart home providers of the future. The Nokia Smart Home solution offers operators the chance to get ahead of the IoT trend and provide customers with a simple plug-and-play solution that is fully interoperable with the leading Wi-Fi technologies and standards needed to manage smart devices and applications. It will also help operators provide new smart home security and automation services that can generate additional revenue opportunities and further enhance customer loyalty.”

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