Race on for “Internet of Things” (IoT) networks

Lim: ‘We believe these IoT applications generate a lot of data that when combined with big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, will transform our cities into ‘smart living cities’.’

PETALING JAYA: New city-wide networks are being built in the country that will enable the entry of the “Internet of Things” or IoT type applications.

The latest player to enter this space is little-known Atilze Digital Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned unit of Penang-based Yen Global Bhd. Last month, Telekom Malaysia Bhd said it was rolling out a similar nationwide network.

Both Atilze Digital and TM are planning to roll out networks based on “LoRa” technology.

LoRa is an open standard for low power wide area networks (LPWANs), which are created to connect low-power devices, such as sensors, over a wide area at lower prices.

IoT has been touted as the next big digital revolution, connecting millions of objects using inexpensive microsensors and is expanding the online universe to ordinary pieces of the physical world such as thermostats, cars, door locks, even pet trackers.

International Data Corp has forecast the global IoT market to be worth US$1.7 trillion by 2020.

In a press release issued on Friday, Atilze said it was partnering the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) to “build city-wide IoT sensor networks using LoRa technology”.

In January, Yen Global, an apparel maker, said that it was moving into the telecommunications space with the acquisition of VLT Wholesale Sdn Bhd, which is now renamed Atilze. Subsequently in April, Atilze inked a partnership with Taiwan-based Gemtek Technology, a global wireless broadband player, to market the latter’s telecommunication products in the area of broadband, LTE and IoT.

Last month, Gemtek, which is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange and which enjoys annual revenue of over US$1bil, bought a 10% stake in Yen Global via a private placement.

Gemtek is a pioneer member of the LoRa Alliance, an open non-profit association for driving the adoption of IoT.

Atilze chief executive officer Gerard Lim told StarBiz that Gemtek supported its operations both technically in terms of supplying ready-solutions as well as business development activities.

Atilze said its LoRa network would support applications that include smart car parking, intelligent street lighting, agriculture as well as water and electric meter reading, among others.

“We believe these IoT applications generate a lot of data that when combined with big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, will transform our cities into ‘smart living cities’, and in the long run help improve our quality of life,” said Lim.

The press release added that the networks being built by Altize and MDEC will be on an open platform enabling other solution providers to connect their services.

It said MDEC had introduced other MSC-status companies in Malaysia to the city-wide LoRa networks being built by Atilze and that a company specialising in water management and a city developer had shown interest in IoT applications and the LoRa network.

“The partnership has also garnered interest from overseas IoT companies that offer intelligent street lighting and smart parking, to connect their ready systems and solutions into the Atilze-MDEC city-wide LoRa networks,” the statement said.

Atilze’s Lim said their plan was to roll out LoRa networks and IoT solutions across the Asean region, adding that they are already in talks with a party in Jakarta.

“Soon it will be Thailand and before the end of the year, it will be in the Philippines,” he added.

Meanwhile, TM, which had announced its LoRa network plans last month, also has a tie up with MDEC and had said that their collaboration with the LoRa Alliance is aimed at sharing best practices to create awareness and support the development and implementation of the LoRa protocol in Malaysia.

“When implemented, TM will become the pioneer in this region to commercially deploy LoRa infrastructure, thus creating new market opportunities for TM and other IoT businesses to leverage on,” the press release had stated.

Meanwhile, a 2015 national strategic paper on IoT by the Science, Technology and Innovations Ministry had listed three goals for the country – to create a conducive IoT industry ecosystem, to strengthen technopreneur capabilities in IoT applications and services and for Malaysia to become a regional development hub for IoT.

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