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Leading the Charge for Open IoT Standards

last updated 03 November 2017
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IDA is embarking on a trial to explore how a new standard for Over-The-Air Subscription Management (OTA SM) can enable embedded SIM (eSIM) chips in IOT devices to switch between different mobile network operators.

The development of open and interoperable standards is crucial in unlocking the potential of the Internet of Things (IOT) and realising Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.

ITU Minister

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, announced IDA's trial on a new standard for over-the-air mobile subscription management (OTA SM) for embedded SIMs (eSIMs) in IoT devices.

It is no surprise that Singapore is in the thick of the action with its work on IOT technical references and its efforts to facilitate a more competitive, standards-based environment for the deployment of IOT devices.

Speaking at the opening of the Forum on Internet of Things in Smart Sustainable Cities on 18 January, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, announced that the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is embarking on a trial to see how a new standard for Over-The-Air Subscription Management (OTA SM) can enable SIM chips embedded in IOT devices to switch between different mobile network operators.

In the IOT world, SIM cards are commonly used to connect devices to mobile networks for control and monitoring purposes. However, based on current technology, every SIM card is tied to a Mobile Network Operator (MNO), and it will have to be replaced with any change in MNO.

This is quite a challenge, as replacing the SIM card is no easy task in the machine-to-machine (M2M) world, especially in the case of embedded SIM (eSIM) cards permanently affixed to the equipment.  Although there are commercially available solutions that allow sensor operators to switch MNOs without changing the SIM cards, these solutions today are based on proprietary technology.

The new OTA SM standard by the GSM Association seeks to address this by allowing M2M businesses to switch MNOs more flexibly. 

ITU DG Aileen

Ms Aileen Chia: The trial will enable IDA to better understand the technical capabilities of OTA SM and the policy framework that will facilitate IOT development in a more competitive environment.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the topic “Adopting the IoT Paradigm: Challenges and Opportunities”, Ms Aileen Chia, Director General, IDA, said the trial will enable IDA to better understand the technical capabilities of this technology — and the policy framework that will facilitate IOT development in a more competitive environment.

Conducted in partnership with PUB, Singapore’s water agency, the trial will also provide participating MNOs with an opportunity to understand the requirements and challenges in provisioning OTA SM.

During the trial period, PUB’s M2M sensors will transmit data or send SMSes to PUB’s operations centre and perform over-the-air switches amongst the participating mobile networks. 

A solution provider will be appointed through a Request for Proposal to lead this trial, which will be conducted  over  a  fully -functional  trial  network  that complies with the GSMA specifications.

“The adoption of interoperable standards will lead to a more competitive environment for the deployment of machine-to-machine devices, by lowering costs and increasing the adoption of IOT in different ways,” said Dr Yaacob. “Having common standards will also improve sensing capabilities across different IOT services and enable IOT devices to communicate with each other more seamlessly.” 

Standards and Technical References

Through the IOT Technical Committee (TC), which comes under SPRING’s IT Standards Committee, IDA is also working with various agencies and organisations to come up with IOT foundational standards which provide a common set of guidelines on IOT requirements and architecture, information and service interoperability, security and data protection. 

These will support sensor data processing and analytics to ensure that data gathered over the network is accurate and intelligently synthesised for making smart decisions.

The agencies recently published two sensor network standards – the TR38 Technical Reference for Sensor Network for Smart Nation (Public Areas) and the TR40 Technical Reference for Sensor Network for Smart Nation (Homes) – to ensure seamless information-sharing and improve sensing capabilities across services and devices.  

By March 2016, another three Technical References are expected to be completed. These are the Technical References for IOT Reference Architecture; IOT Information and Service Interoperability; and IOT use cases in tele-health.

ITU Chaesub

Dr Chaesub Lee: Singapore’s participation in the development of international standards has been a great asset to standardisation work for IOT and smart cities.

IDA also recently issued a public consultation on the standards to be adopted for Singapore’s Intelligent Transportation Systems, developed with inputs from industry experts, the academia, and agencies such as the Land Transport Authority, to enable more efficient and effective road traffic management and the deployment of autonomous vehicles. 

Dr Chaesub Lee, Director, Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union, said Singapore’s participation in the development of international standards has been “a great asset” to standardisation work for IOT and smart cities. 

“It is a contribution to technology transfer and knowledge transfer, and to ICT development on a global scale.” 


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