Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

BT to build dedicated IoT network in UK city

Iain Morris
May 29, 2014
UK telecoms incumbent BT has unveiled plans to build a dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) network in the city of Milton Keynes that will showcase a number of public- and private-sector smart applications.

The operator is to collaborate on the rollout of the network with UK IoT pioneer Neul (Cambridge, UK), the driving force behind Weightless – a communications standard that would make use of white-space spectrum to support IoT services.

BT (London, UK) and Neul say the project will demonstrate the ability of a city-wide M2M infrastructure to cope with a large number of static and mobile sensors.

While some of the sensors will support services being provided by local authorities, the companies hope that local innovators will be encouraged to design commercial applications for use on the network that could subsequently be offered in other parts of the country – or, indeed, outside the UK.

The work will see BT and Neul install a network of Weightlesss-compatible base stations to provide city-wide coverage for low-power, connected sensors.

“We see this exciting project as a means of establishing an open innovation environment to support the creation of M2M and IoT applications across a whole city,” said Alan Ward, the head of corporate ICT practice at BT. “This could include anything from intelligent monitoring of parking spaces in the city to networked bins which signal when they need collecting.”

“The project will showcase BT’s capability in managing network services for these applications which will be pivotal in making this initiative a success,” he added.

Neul claims its technology provides the “key” to unlocking a variety of new applications that existing communications technologies could not provide economically.

“As well as providing a test-bed for our own specific use cases, this will bring new innovation and business development to the city, creating an ecosystem of IoT development,” said Geoff Snelson, the director of strategy at Milton Keynes Council.

The rollout is to occur over an 18-month period and is intended to prove “a range of different business models in a real world environment”, according to Snelson.

Milton Keynes hopes the network will become a platform for IoT innovation and attract global companies to work in the area.
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