Telefónica is one of the operators providing NB-IOT connectivity in Spain, but also one of the first integrators to deploy a project using Urbiotica’s new U-Spot M2M sensor. Javier Paniagua, Smart City Manager at Telefónica, shared his vision related to the impact of this new technology on the urban solutions, and how this opens up a world of opportunities for the Smart Cities.
– Javier Paniagua – Smart Cities Manager
Javier, what does the NB-IOT protocol deliver to the Smart City sector?
The major cases of IOT use in the urban environment have already been identified: waste collection optimization, public lighting, water meter monitoring, and definitely smart parking. Many projects have already been deployed through various types of radio networks. Our experience until now tells us that this connectivity is really complex and also involves many additional costs: design, deployment and especially maintenance. Any radio network needs at the very least 24/7 monitoring and maintenance. On the other hand, these kinds of projects must be designed with a long-term perspective. Connectivity costs must be correctly characterized and controlled in order not to assume technological risks that imply some hidden surprises.
What the NB-IOT really provides is a standardization of this connectivity layer with a very low consumption solution, incorporating a homogeneous coverage maintained by the operator, providing a plug & play response to the market needs: less hardware, easy deployment and no maintenance. Connectivity management is totally integrated into the monitoring and maintenance processes of the mobile networks ensured by Telefónica. Therefore, it is not necessary to have a parallel contract to carry out the management of a dedicated network. Technological evolution is one of the operator’s pillars. We ensure that there is a medium- and long-term vision of the technologies to be deployed. We can finally focus on the use and real benefits that these solutions offer to the public administrations.
Urbiotica launched the new U-Spot M2M parking sensor with NB-IOT connectivity during the past Smart City Expo edition. Telefónica is our first customers for this new sensor that today has projects underway to deployed in more than 2000 parking spaces. What can you tell us about it?
As far as we have seen until now, it maintains the performance offered by the traditional solution in terms of reliability and robustness. Which is great. It is evident that projects for scattered areas spaces cannot be carried out with a dedicated radio network, due to the average cost per space. But I’m thinking beyond these use cases. I’m sure the M2M version of the U-Spot will also be used in cases of higher density spaces such as urban centers, because of the simplicity it brings. .
Telefónica has been working with Urbiotica for some time now. What would you highlight after these years of collaboration?
We’ve been working together for about four years. The relationship has always flown really natural. You are one of the longest running companies in the IOT world. We did some first project together about 3 or 4 years ago, and since then we keep on working and the relationship is very good.
Urbiotica is a small company, although it is growing. This gives you a flexibility that not all companies have. This is really important when working for the Public Administration, because each project is different from the other. Working with Urbiotica we can face each project with an ad hoc and concrete strategy. Your knowledge, together with ours, allows us to deal each project independently.
You have plenty of experience in the IOT market applied to Smart Cities. All this experience is reflected in a high quality and very mature product. Both in functionality and price. It allows us to create differential proposals.
Why Urbiotica? Why did you choose to work with Urbiotica’s technology instead of others?
In addition to sensor systems, we have worked with several communication technologies such as LORA (not so much), SIGFOX, WIFI network… and also with other types of detection technologies. When we talk about video, there are many limitations in terms of maintenance. I don’t feel comfortable working with cameras. The video is not mature and the maintenance costs don’t make sense. They’re not ready yet.
There were also other solutions similar to yours. But Urbiotica has a very well prepared and tested solution.
The collaboration is very close right now. Talking about NB-IOT connectivity, you’re the only company with which we are working hand to hand, to put our network at your disposal so you can invest in products for the market. We could have done it with other competitors, but they have not had that desire to innovate in the product. Besides, they are always a few steps behind you.
Your market knowledge is reflected in the product and this makes you have a very competitive solution.
Would you like to comment on the relationship and the attention received by Urbiotica?
Sure. Many departments at Telefónica are involved with Urbiotica : sales, pre-sales, product, operations, business development, etc.
The whole chain works with you. We all agree that the flexibility and the ease of working together is extraordinary and really uncommon when working with providers. In terms of product development there are things I have never seen before. Not all companies do this, and neither do we perform like this with other suppliers. We really appreciate it.
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