The Cloud-Star technology blog brings you the latest news and comment from the Mobile Communications industry including: IoT, 4G LTE, 5G and other mobile technologies.

By James Bristow, SVP EMEA, Cradlepoint

Fixed Wireless Access’s speed and flexibility could have it serve a crucial role in helping businesses and public services rebuild in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, writes James Bristow, SVP EMEA, Cradlepoint

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, it’s important to step back and recognise the huge effort being made to limit its potential for disruption. To give a few examples from the United Kingdom, British Gas is using its logistics network to deliver supplies to food banks, while teachers are using empty classrooms for design and technology lessons to make face shields for NHS workers. It’s clear that while the pandemic is undoubtedly causing devastation, it has unleashed a wave of compassion, collaboration and innovation. Combined with our ability to communicate with one another in today’s technology-driven world, these factors make us all the more resilient. Many aspects of daily life have been able to continue while respecting all-important social distancing, thanks in part to the ability to stay connected with family and friends, remain up to date with the latest news and government advice, or work remotely from home. But whilst things are changing constantly, getting everyone and everything connected can still be a challenge. Here we look at some of the examples of where the flexibility of fixed wireless access (FWA ), which provides internet access to homes using wireless mobile network technology rather than fixed lines, can help to overcome the barriers caused by COVID-19. Pop-up connectivity in temporary healthcare facilities New field hospitals and pop-up testing stations are being developed right across the world to fight and control the spread of the disease. Speed and flexibility are key to their success – the faster they can be set up, the more patients that healthcare workers can diagnose and treat. This need for mobility and rapid deployment means wireline connectivity is a no-go, making enterprise-grade wireless WAN a preferred choice for many of these facilities. Using LTE cellular networks, FWA has helped remove barriers to getting pop-up facilities connected to high-performance networks in the field without the need for installation by IT professionals. In addition, in-built security measures such as VPN, edge threat detection and content help bolster the security and therefore availability of the network. As a result, healthcare staff can reliably gain access to patient records, transmit valuable data and receive updates in real-time from centralised control hubs, wherever and whenever needed. Extending company networks to home offices Social distancing has made remote working an imperative of business continuity for many organisations across the world today. Innovations such as fibre broadband, cloud-based applications, and a host of agile collaboration tools have similarly shifted from being useful nice-to-haves to business-critical activities. However, the consumer networks to which home offices are connected lack the security, reliability and manageability characteristics needed to meet the standards of enterprise-class connectivity. This can not only result in a loss of worker productivity due to reduced network capacity, but also risks comprising data security regulations and opening vulnerabilities in the corporate network due to access via an unmanaged, unsecured connection.

Remote working is an imperative of business continuity for many organisations across the world

In order to emulate the standards of network connectivity found in enterprise working environments, remote workers can rely on plug-in-and-play FWA solutions with all the characteristics of an office-based network already built-in. Not only does this provide remote workers with a high-performance connection separate from their home network, but also enables organisations to centrally monitor, troubleshoot and secure remote access to the corporate network through cloud-based management platforms. For the vast number of households – with multiple people working from home or children using high demand streaming or gaming services - a separate FWA corporate WAN solution running on an LTE network can provide office-like connectivity separate to the home network. Bringing connectivity to those who need it most High-speed home broadband underpins many of the everyday experiences that have now moved online. One of the most crucial is education, as reflected by the UK government’s recent promise to supply disadvantaged children in England with free laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers. This last provision is especially important in light of the UK’s digital divide, with internet usage 30 per cent lower amongst lower-income households than those with an income of £20,000 or more, according to the Oxford Internet Institute. High-speed home broadband underpins many of the everyday experiences that have now moved online.

A similar social initiative is currently being rolled out in the United States at a grassroots level. One organisation has converted yellow school buses into mobile high-speed public Wi-Fi hotspots to provide free Wi-Fi to the neighbourhoods of school districts. Fitted with gigabit-class LTE modems, these access points offer sufficient bandwidth for students to gain full access to the learning resources and online content they need. In addition, in-built security capabilities, such as threat protection and content filtering, help minimise the risk of students accidentally downloading malware or accessing dangerous content. By bringing enterprise-class connectivity to every student, these mobile hotspots are helping to keep students engaged and learning, something which is ever more critical during this period. A watershed moment in how people, places and things get connected In these uncertain times, it’s important to look at silver linings. Daily life would be been disrupted considerably more if the coronavirus pandemic had broken more than a decade ago. Innovations such as smartphones, 3G/LTE, fibre broadband and the cloud have proven to be crucial to continuing daily life during the current crisis, while only having emerged within the last 15 years. It’s clear that innovation both is and will continue to be key to facing the challenges of the future, especially when it comes to the technologies that help us to communicate, collaborate and cooperate. The need for easy-to-deploy networks has ushered in wireless as the defining network medium of our time. Moreover, flexibility, agility and efficiency will continue to be the ingredients of success long after the current crisis ends. It’s therefore more important now than ever to cut the cord, consider FWA as the primary source of connectivity, and realise the potential of enterprise-class wireless as the default network paradigm moving forward.

Source: Smart Cities World

According to a new research report from Berg Insight, global shipments of connected digital signage displays grew by 16.7 percent to 17.2 million units in 2019. Market growth is driven by greater demand for digital signage solutions in all market verticals, technological advancements and a continued decline in prices. Shipments to the EU28+2 countries totalled an estimated 3.9 million units, whereas shipments to North America reached 4.8 million units.

The Rest of World market accounted for the remaining 8.5 million units. Berg Insight forecasts that global shipments of connected digital signs will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8 percent in the next five years to reach 32.8 million units by 2024. As a result, the number of connected digital signage displays in active use worldwide will grow at a CAGR of 15.2 percent from an estimated 63.8 million units in 2019 to 129.4 million units in 2024.

The digital signage industry is highly fragmented with a large number of companies active in the marketplace. As for other fragmented markets, consolidation is increasingly taking place among the industry vendors as the market matures. “The digital signage space has seen a large number of M&As over the past years involving various companies active in this industry”, said Rickard Andersson, Principal Analyst, Berg Insight. He adds that one of most significant deals on the digital signage market is STRATACACHE’s acquisition of Scala in 2016.

The deal cemented STRATACACHE’s position as a key player with a broad global footprint and total revenues which are now approaching the billion-dollar range.

STRATACACHE has over the years performed numerous acquisitions in the digital signage space and related fields, including Premier Retail Networks (PRN), Vertigo Digital Displays, Real Digital Media, LIFT Network, Walkbase, iDKLIC, X2O Media, Sys-Teams and POPSCREENS (now called Scala China). “One of the most eye-catching deals in 2020 so far is further the agreement between NEC and Sharp to create a joint venture by combining NEC Display Solutions with Sharp”, continued Mr. Andersson. Under the terms of the transaction, NEC will transfer majority ownership of NEC Display Solutions to Sharp. “While the consolidation trend contributes to limiting the number of participants in the marketplace, there is also a steady inflow of new players including start-ups eyeing the digital signage industry”, concluded Mr. Andersson.

Source: Berg Insight

  • O2 completes Innovate UK-funded project looking at the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of connected and autonomous vehicles

  • Working with Cisco, Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, and Millbrook Proving Ground, O2 has helped develop a blueprint to help protect the UK’s self-driving cars from cyber-vulnerabilities

  • The project comes at a critical time for the growing connected and autonomous vehicle market, as the industry is projected to be worth £28 billion by 20351

O2 has completed a project funded by Innovate UK, the UK Government-funded innovation agency, and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to support the development of cybersecurity testing capabilities. O2 provided access to its technical subject matter experts during the 12-week-long Baselining, Automation and Response for CAV Testbed (BeARCAT) cybersecurity project, working alongside partners including technology company Cisco, Millbrook Proving Ground, and Warwick Manufacturing Group, the engineering, manufacturing, and technology department at the University of Warwick.

O2’s cybersecurity experts were responsible for determining the types of cyberattack and attackers that pose a threat to CAV networks2.  Their investigation focused on developing models that could be used to classify, manage, and mitigate cybersecurity risks for intelligent transport systems, which will be vital for ensuring the safety and security of road users in the future.

The security of the UK’s transport system has never been more important, and this will only increase with time as cyberattacks become more complex and sophisticated. One Cabinet Office report3 calculated that cybercrime costs the UK economy £27 billion annually, £21 billion of that to businesses, £3.1 billion to citizens, and £2.2 billion to the Government. Given the anticipated growth rates of the automotive cybersecurity market and the UK CAV market – estimated to be worth £28 billion in 20351 – project BeARCAT generated valuable insights into the risks and challenges of the deployment of connected and automated mobility in public areas.

The project, which was led by Cisco and conceived at Millbrook Proving Ground, a leading vehicle testing facility in Bedford, ran from 1 January to 31 March 2020. As a feasibility study, recommendations were put forward by the consortium to Innovate UK to form the basis of a future cybersecurity CAV test facility, which outlined the design, development, and trialling of the outputs of the phase 1 study.

This news follows the announcement in September 2019 that O2 would provide the connectivity for a new ‘Smart Ambulance’ at Millbrook Proving Ground as part of a trial to revolutionise patient diagnosis and early treatment, meaning that visits to hospitals are minimised as well as providing an improvement in clinical outcomes.

Brendan O’Reilly, CTO at O2 said: “If connected and autonomous vehicles are going to become a permanent fixture in our day-to-day lives, it will be critical that governments and the public feel reassured that this technology is secure from cyber-attacks. We’re proud to have worked alongside other sector leaders to create a cybersecurity blueprint that will help the UK lead the way when it comes to innovation in the intelligent transportation systems of the future.”

Peter Stoker, Chief Engineer – Connected & Autonomous Vehicles at Millbrook said: “BeARCAT has been a great opportunity to bring together sector experts over the course of this study: O2’s in-depth telecommunications knowledge, Cisco’s insights, and Warwick Manufacturing Group’s academic vigour all brought something new to Millbrook and our testing business. Looking to the future, it’s clear that the UK is well positioned to be one of the leaders in testing connected vehicles in a controlled environment.”

Professor Carsten Maple, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Principal Investigator of the NCSC-EPSRC Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research at the University of Warwick said: “BeARCAT has provided the Warwick Manufacturing Group with a fantastic opportunity to work with leading organisations O2, Cisco and Millbrook. The collaborative effort has led to us taking our research from the academic into the practical environment and allowed us to shape the future of automotive cybersecurity in the UK.”

Joel Obstfeld, Distinguished Engineer in Cisco’s Emerging Technology and Incubation Team said: “The BeARCAT project brought together expertise from key sectors to the CAV ecosystem. From the operational expertise of the O2’s cybersecurity experts, Millbrook’s experience in the testing environment, the academic research capabilities of WMG, to Cisco’s expertise in networks and security services, BeARCAT offers a great example of the cross-disciplinary thinking required to create a viable testing framework to address cybersecurity challenges for CAVs in the UK.”

Source 02