Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks – a huge impulse for IoT

LPWAThe Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept which has been with us now for many years and it is slowly gaining terrain during the last few years, but what will for sure be a huge impulse for IoT are the networks classified as Low Power Wide Area networks (LPWA).

Why is this so? Mainly because IoT applications and devices, to be economically viable need to have low costs and long battery lives, and LPWA can offer this. Indeed, initial research suggests that there will be between 5 to 7 billion LPWA connections by 2022!

Apart from low costs and long battery lives, LPWA will increase the parts of the IoT industry that require low data rates, low mobility, hard to reach locations, low level of power consumption, a long range and also security. This is something which no matter which way you look at it, existing mobile technology is not ideal for the above scenarios. Hence this makes LPWA more feasible.

However, what is true, is that existing cellular operators are prime candidates to be the ones to offer LPWA, because they don’t need to make large changes in their existing infrastructure. Initially the cellular operators would just need make enhancements to their current networks. Moreover, coverage of these cellular networks to date, virtually cover the whole globe and roaming permit country frontiers to be crossed without any problems. Also, there tends to be various cellular operators in each country which means there is competition, and in turn this helps to keep pricing down.   

Industries that have requirements mentioned at the beginning of this article are many. To name but a few; agriculture, utilities, health, automotive, transport, manufacturing, wearables and more.

Utilities: all utility companies need to meter and monitor low levels of data on a periodic basis. Whether to measure client consumption or as a backup system to detect faults, leaks, etc. LPWA could also be used at the energy production plants.

Smart Cities: Smart cities are not only about the utilities industry, but much more when we consider LPWA. This technology can be implemented into many public services. From important services which need to have a tight control, such as street lighting, local police, sewers, etc. to public services from which city councils can obtain revenues from. Parking, bicycle hiring, central city areas with levy tolls, etc., to name but a few.

Manufacturing: In the same way, backup systems can be used with LPWA for the manufacturing industry, to detect faults along any parts of an assembly line or any in warehouses and in other places. Even to monitor procedures to maintain everything at optimum levels.

Buildings: LPWA  can be integrated into both private and business buildings. For example, controlling heat and light disorders or controlling machines themselves. Within a home that could be the temperature of a fridge and within a business that could be controlling the ink level of printers.

Health: Health can initially use LPWA for two basic areas. For patients and secondly for all hospital infrastructure. Having patients at home is becoming increasingly popular because on the one hand it reduces costs drastically and secondly because patients tend to improve faster at home. Using LPWA on patients to monitor blood pressures, oxygen levels, etc. is vital to be able to send patients home early. As far as controlling infrastructure, Hospital buildings would be prime candidates for everything related to smart buildings.  

Agriculture: LPWA networks will enable to keep track of live animals. Whether it’s livestock or even wild animals to detect their whereabouts. Also, soil can be monitored to always have optimum humidity levels.

Transport: Independently of tracking the vehicles, tracking of transported goods is not currently online. It is mostly done with barcodes as they pass through the different phases of their travel. However, LPWA could have packages monitored at whatever time desired.

Wearables: With LPWA, children and old aged people could wear simple devices to keep them tracked down and under control so that they don’t stray away from desired areas.

Overall it is clear that LPWA is going to boost IoT and that’s the sensation one gets from all those involved in this industry. Mobile operators, infrastructure companies, device/module/chipset manufacturers and integrators. Within Teldat we have been manufacturing mobile routers and devices for nearly twenty years, and we are keeping close control of LPWA, as we have with other mobile technology in the past.

 

 

1st Advent…when the routers turn off

routersAt the end of November, the pre-Christmas season usually starts in Germany. The famous Christmas Markets, such as the Christkindle market in Nuremberg, open in every city and people celebrate the first Advent by lighting the first of four candles of the Advent wreath. Usually, the first Advent is the day when the contemplative time starts. The 27th of November, the first Advent in 2016 was for many people in Germany in a particular way very calm. Round about one million DSL routers, mainly devices from Germany’s biggest telecommunications carrier, fell victim to hacker attacks.

No Internet, no IP telephony and no TV via IP for about one million customers. It was the biggest cyber attack in Germany so far. But not only people in Germany were offline, about 100 000 DLS routers in the UK broke down as well.

Apparently, a strain of the Mirai botnet family was responsible for the outage. Mirai (Japanese for “the future”) is malware that attacks computer systems based on Linux. The target is to turn the systems into remotely controlled “bots” (robots) and use them in botnets for large-scale network attacks. The word botnet combines the words robot and network. The source code for Mirai is published in hacker forums as open-source and can therefore be used in many malware projects.

A world-wide wave of cyber attacks by the communication protocol TR-069 has been registered. TR-064 commands tried to compromise the routers by installing malware and integrating them in an IoT botnet. Infected devices within the botnet should attack further devices. At least, this was the plan of the attackers.

As it turns out, the attack did not really succeed and it could have been worse because only the first step of the attack was successful. The connection via port 7547 of the TR-069 protocol has been accepted and opened. The second step, compromising the devices did not work because the routers were not based on Linux and the attack assumed a Linux operating system. The attack ended up in a denial of service but did not compromise devices. However, flooding the routers with TR-069 requests, the devices opened up a vast number of connections and did not terminate them as scheduled which resulted in an outage. Updates for the DSL routers have solved the problem promptly within one to two days.

Compared to what could have happened, the carrier’s customers got off lightly. Nevertheless, the damage for online shops was remarkable – especially at pre-Christmas season. As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, Teldat with its very long tradition in the telecommunication and IT market is also partner and supplier for top German carriers. The cyber attack did not really succeed. Nevertheless, the outage happened because of security vulnerability in remote management protocols.

The system architecture of Teldat’s devices does not have this vulnerability and are therefore not affected.

WiFi Cloud-based applications to empower your mobility business

mobilityThe onboard communication devices are currently undergoing rapid migration to external applications residing in the cloud while leaving behind traditional business models (based on in-house applications). These new services promise a cost effective and far simpler deployment with almost instant availability and a real possibility of monetary benefits.

The higher connection speeds provided by LTE and LTE advanced, combined with cloud services becoming more economically viable plus more sophisticated encryption for communications (vital to prevent hacking) have overcome the original disadvantages of cloud models.

The unquestionable advantages and improvements grow apace: the speed and simplicity to install any kind of hard or software in vehicles (without the need for individual and physical presence); scalability to remotely provide upgrades; security and reliability with automatic backup protecting data; and full, uninterrupted interaction between vehicles and the central node through 3G/LTE technology.

Moving on from this, we have analyzed some of the most relevant tools and applications already available in the cloud and, consequently, to the mobility sector:

1)      Captive portal solutions. Captive portals offer two fundamental features.

  • Authentication, which helps collect, identify and recognize the passengers that enter the system.
  • And the Big Data associated to data exploitation, which sets a new paradigm in personalized marketing (i.e. monetizable and targeted marketing).

Combining these two elements allows for publicity tools to be used to increase profitability and, through the classification of passenger profiles, boost social media.

All this can only be achieved through a communications platform that is fully compatible with captive portal solutions.

2)      Content filtering, to control user access to visible contents.

This includes the creation of blacklists (configurable by group or nature), geolocation access options (via web), temporary access policies, blocking of traffic from certain applications (streaming, social networks, messaging services, etc.), and extra configuration options for one click access, complemented with periodic reports on network traffic.

3)      Remote management & Monitoring. A management suite that remotely configures all devices should have two essential characteristics:

-          Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZPT), the generation of automatic device-to-device configurations (without manual intervention).  The savings in costs and time for the carrier (when deploying) is obvious and simplifies configuration tasks such as modifications or upgrades.

-          Real-time device inventory, to view the state of each device in the network: a key element for rapid response capability for any eventuality. 

-          Additionally, having a tracking tool that provides real-time information on routes taken by vehicles and coverage values at strategic points may prove advantageous. The information collected should include data consumption or instant bandwidth, the generation of ad hoc alarms and key information to identify problem areas on a route (such as bottlenecks, zones lacking coverage from a specific carrier, a geographical incident blocking signals, etc.).

The combined use of this set of tools is already a reality and will, in the near future, become standard in transport and mobility sectors. Thanks to its firm commitment to R&D and to strategic alliances within the mobility industry, Teldat is at the very crest of cloud technology, the sector’s new paradigm.

Internet of Things (IoT) Security

iotSince September, several cyber-attacks have targeted a series of entities present in the network (including DNS Internet service providers, numerous webs residing in Liberia and the personal page of an expert in online security).

They were all victims of distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), where concentrated flows of traffic are sent every second from thousands of different addresses to flood victims’ networks. As these attacks are based on sheer size and force rather than specific vulnerable spots or software errors, they are difficult to overcome.

For an attack of this sort to be successful, a multitude of network connected elements are used to send a constant flow of requests. To control such an elevated number of devices, access is needed, either legitimately or otherwise.

Specifically, these attacks use a group of elements on a network infected by malware and controlled by a single person (or group) to launch a DDoS attack.This has promoted greater awareness of security and the vital role it plays as it was this very lack of security that left devices open to an attack in the first place.  

A malware, Mirai, was responsible for these outages. It primarily attacks computer systems based on Linux and turns them into remotely controlled bots for the attacker to use in any way he sees fit. Mirai’s greatest success has come from infecting IoT elements such as webcams, printers or video recorders and even routers. These devices are designed to be remotely accessed and often use unmodifiable default passwords, a security flaw that leaves them vulnerable to attack. Mirai used a well-known set of default usernames and passwords to try and access these devices through trial and error.

Once control is gained over a group of devices, DDoS attacks can be launched and target any element connected to Internet.

These events have highlighted a difficult problem to solve. Many IoT items are cheaply made and little or no attention is given to the security aspect. They do not receive customer support or updating services (and may not be able to update in the first place), so their default passwords are indefinite and, should new vulnerabilities come to light, impossible to fix.

In Teldat, our devices operate on a higher layer than IoT devices and one of our main goals is to provide the best security possible at all times by being fully aware of present and future events and innovations in Internet security.

 

Styling IT products: Bringing added value through design

IT productsA carefully honed brand image is an inescapable premise for anyone who wants their product to standout in the market, particularly given the importance of design. The IT field is no exception to this. So how can we bring added value through styling?

Every brand is well-aware of how important it is to provide services and solutions for existing needs, reduce manufacturing costs, advertise products efficiently and be competitive in price for the item to be successful. This all must be added to a distinctive yet practical product, which is attractive, striking, effective, innovative, elegant, sophisticated, imaginative etc., depending on what each manufacturer considers necessary to achieve their marketing goals.

Often, a beautifully packaged image and an attractive design proves to be more effective, in terms of sales, than the product itself (whatever it was designed for).

Design, in IT products, matters

Telecommunication products are not exempt to this need. Devices for corporate communications (advanced connectivity, access and management of private and public networks, transmission of data/voice/video are currently on the table) are endowed with the most advanced hardware and software technology, whose design, development and manufacture greatly rely on (given the competition) the following:

  • Cost adjustment.
  • User-friendly assembly of components.
  • Simplicity in installation in the work place.

The vast resources devoted to addressing the technical requirements can prevent us from giving the necessary attention to product image and housing design. More often than not, this is reduced to a simple “problem” that needs to be resolved as successfully as possible.

Styling in IT Products

Bear in mind that these products are frequently housed in unobtrusive areas in a building, office or vehicle where they carry out their function: in a false ceiling or floor, installation rooms, anywhere in fact where they are out of the way.

This can easily lead us into the trap of thinking that product styling is less important than it really is.   

However, we must certainly consider the needs and destination of each product, giving them their due importance while making the effort to cultivate the product image and design and use the best manufacturing materials for each setting. This can only benefit the user and bring added value to any telecommunications device.

At Teldat, we know that design and function are fully compatible in telecommunications. We believe that taking care of the design is not a waste of time and resources, but helps make our devices better. By paying attention to our designs, we are able to bring added value to our IT products.

 

ALL IP by the short hairs – Part 2

all ipThe following example will probably clarify the issue we had last week regarding the alternative approaches to ALL IP solution. A system which is automatically provisioned with basic functions such as Internet access, registering SIP/VoIP accounts, and a setup for basic telephony should also provide Wi-Fi for guests and business partners.

Guests can use Wi-Fi by entering a preshared key. It is advisable to logically separate the network for guests from the internal network and probably apply a special set of security rules. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the whole bandwidth is not completely used up. Another solution could be to use a dedicated, separate Internet access for the guest network. In this context, issues such as VLAN, firewall rules and Wi-Fi management arise, thus, no trivial task to solve, but all necessary functions are usually available via a graphical user interface or similar configuration tools. Nevertheless, in the course of installing such scenarios, some conceptual considerations are necessary ensuring that no undesired side effects occur, such as faulty firewall configurations.

The aim is therefore that all necessary functions for the setup of various scenarios are available in such a manner that even users with less experience have the possibility to cope with this task. This leads to the aggregation, abstraction, and serialization of configuration steps towards a guided configuration. It is especially important that this kind of configuration is reentrant. This means that in any configuration step modifications can be made without destroying the whole configuration in order to have in any case an executable configuration.

Moreover, the strength and professionalism of a system is recognized besides the installation of functionalities by the creation of diagnostic information. ALL IP means in fact anything with IP, thus, all applications with their different properties and characteristics use IP. Consequently, in case of failures or unexpected system behavior, it is necessary to generate qualified data analysis. Optimally this should be done, in a generally processible format directly from the system and if it is possible, already filtered, which means not to monitor the whole network traffic but only that at a certain interface where the problem has been localized.

Anyhow, the reduced configuration complexity has its limits, due to the need of keeping the balance between configuration’s simplicity and preserving the context. In other words, a simplified configuration which only turns a firewall on and off and thus applies a hardly comprehensible set of rules is highly questionable. IT security cannot be achieved at the touch of a button. The other extreme is a sheer endless chain of configuration steps which try to cover all possible (or even impossible) and de facto hardly relevant applications. Thereby, as many case distinctions as possible are taken into account.

However, in any case, additional consulting and service is mandatory for special developments, adjustments or even more complex scenarios. Network infrastructures using wired and wireless technologies have to meet the dynamic requirements of its users. They need a thorough care and a high competence during the phase of conception and design.

Teldat as a qualified manufacturer for SMEs, large corporations, integrators and carriers provides user-friendly as well as advanced IT and telecommunication solutions.

ALL IP by the short hairs-Part 1

all-ipIf we were to summarize the current situation in the ALL IP market, we would see that the migration from ISDN to ALL IP has reached a stage where the number of IP-based telephone connections has exceeded other fixed-line connections such as analog or ISDN. In contrast to other VoIP/SIP providers, Germany’s largest carrier has not been able to offer SIP trunk connections in the last year, thus many business customers could not migrate from ISDN point-to-point connections to ALL IP.  Another important point to mention is that the offer of cloud-based ICT solutions has increased therefore migration to ALL IP is even possible for non-office environments.

Despite the progress concerning switching to ALL-IP, there are still a few issues to face. Especially the transformation of ISDN features to ALL-IP based connections draws a lot of attention. How to migrate ISDN PBXs in use into the new world of ALL IP or the choice of the IP-based solution are two of the key issues about ALL IP. Quality as a matter of fact means often, how symmetrical/similar is “new” compared to “old”. Thereby, it is just  as  interesting as important to take a closer look into the systems which should operate between the company’s network and the public network. Those systems which have to cover a broad spectrum of different tasks and at the same time have to be easy to use.

Especially in the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) segment, systems with a large number of features are often found. This means, in addition to broadband Internet access, a number of further functionalities and technologies are introduced, such as integrated Wi-Fi besides the possibility of managing additional Wi-Fi Access Points as a cloud solution. Backup for the primary Internet access by additional wired broadband accesses and by wireless mobile solutions become increasingly common. Furthermore, the firmware offers more and more technical characteristics such as VPN for site networking or comprehensive telephone features. Quality of Service – QoS plays a central role. This feature chooses between all competing data streams, which data packages should be prioritized by means of a sophisticated set of rules.

On the whole, the systems’ complexity and the requirement to cope with more and more tasks at the same time increase. On the other hand, in the course of migration to ALL IP, a wide range of providers try to reduce their service time and effort for installation and integration as much as possible in order to make the business case economical. For this reason, in many cases, the customer or user is supposed to do the first installation on his own in order to start at least a basic package of functions. The challenge for manufacturers is to develop on the one hand systems to meet all the demands of business customers such as function and operation, whilst on the other hand, the systems have to have an easy installation, so that no external service is needed.

As a result of this, fully automatic provisioning is partially deployed where the user only has to cable the system correctly. However, in many cases, manual intervention or at least starting an automatism provided by the carrier is necessary. In this context, IT or rather system security should not be neglected, ensuring that infrastructure is not vulnerable.

Teldat, as a manufacturer in the telecommunications and IT market, has attracted Germany’s largest carrier as a customer. For this client, we provide both approaches: a rather easy and user-friendly first installation solution, as well as a reliable and state-of-the-art IT security solution. In our next blog entry, we will look further into the challenges that we face, as an IT and telecommunication manufacturer.

 

Getting going!!

sdxcentralNow our Christmas holidays are over (which we hope all our readers thoroughly enjoyed), the moment to begin once more is upon us. It’s possible that many people at this time of year experience a certain anxiety when confronting blank sheets of paper and the inevitable doubts about the future. Particularly so if you had a good 2016 or, at least, a better year than the previous one. In Teldat, however, this anxiety translates into contained expectation for an interesting and innovative year to come for our product ranges and organization. 

In previous posts, we have discussed our new line of SD-WAN solutions, which, according to accredited analyst reports such as that of SdxCentral have placed Teldat as one of the best in this field. Our consolidation of this position is one of our main objectives for 2017. We’ve also spoken about the vectors needed to transform companies, which are essential in order to meet the demands of customers and key survival factors. Even more so in a business segment as innovative and dynamic as technology. As previously stated, these vectors are three: Objectives, to indicate direction; Consistency in execution, to achieve the goals set and, of course, the right People to make this possible.

Teldat has already set its goals clearly at the beginning of January 2017 and has an extraordinary team of people capable of carrying them out. Therefore, any anxious feeling is replaced by an intense desire to get to work and ensure that 2017 is as good as it promises to be. We wish the same for all our friends and customers.

3, 2, 1…..  GO!

The start of a new era

Imagen Post NavidadAt the end of 2015, I remember saying that it had been a very special year for Teldat, as we celebrated our company’s 30th Anniversary. How from a simple technological startup we had become one of the European market leaders in advanced corporate communication platforms. However, 2016 has been as if our 31st year in business, has meant the opening of a totally new era, and indeed it has been so, with Teldat’s launch of SD-WAN!

It is clear that SD-WAN is going to mean a huge change in the market and Teldat has already prepared itself for what our clients and the market in general is going to request in 2017 and beyond. CTO’s have seen that with companies becoming continuously more global, how they need to organize their information technology and networks needs to change. Part of this change will definitely need to be managed with the SD-WAN concept.

Apart from the new era of SD-WAN, there have been many other interesting technologies in which Teldat has been involved in and our followers on our blog and other social networks, have been able to keep track of this. On Linkedin just a week ago we reached the figure of 4.000 followers. A huge increase in just a few years. Perhaps our traditional and new followers have been interested in the amount of bloggers that we have from our R&D department, who have a totally different flavor when writing, to anyone from a commercial or marketing environment.

Indeed, on Linkedin, our followers are able to follow our blog posts and all those events in which we participate, via our Flickr photo albums. It’s always pleasant to put a face to some of the Teldat team members.

We participated in many important events over the year 2016. To mention just a few there was, EUW and EUTC for smart grids, this year in Frankfurt, Trainscomms and BBWF, in London, as well as, of course, the SDWAN summit in Paris.

To end this year, we want to thank all of our readers for their loyalty and interest, as well as welcoming all new followers who have joined our communication channels this year.

We especially want to wish everyone -those of you who read us occasionally and all of our customers and friends- a very merry Christmas, and may 2017 and beyond prove to be as interesting as it is forecasted.

      

  

  

Not all Transformations are Digital

digital transformationRecently, regardless of where you look, you’ll find features on Digital Transformation. Digital or physical blogs (including this one) and magazines are full of articles on the digitization of companies, the advantages, drawbacks and risks and the most efficient way to undertake this procedure. And this occasionally leads us to lose sight of the main issue: Digital Transformation involves a number of key technological tools that only make sense if the organization has a profitable business model with defined procedures and is geared to today’s needs. Anything else sets a company up to fail disastrously: Digital Transformation would be more likely to reveal weaknesses in working models and processes that, if not put right, will cause more problems than it solves.

In these hectic times, company transformation is a given, not a choice. The world is moving and changing at an ever-increasing pace as business managers well know. Customers, like competitors, also perceive and understand this. Companies unable, or unwilling, to recognize coming changes and adapt are unlikely to succeed. Nothing new of course, except for two things: the speed and extent of said changes are greater than ever. We should bear in mind that, while many enterprises seem totally focused on Digital Transformation, it may be as well for other adjustments to take place first.

There are various factors that strongly influence a successful outcome to remodeling company processes:

  • Target: What does the business want to become? To achieve? Why is this transformation necessary? The aim behind it is to give companies the long-term ability to adapt to new needs and features in their field, and increase their overall competitiveness. 
  •  Personnel: In any given company, employees can hinder the chances of success if they don’t understand, accept, or even consider it feasible. Regardless of the time and resources that may have been poured in, resistance to change is perennially ingrained in all companies. That’s why it’s so important to consider the makeup of the personnel and provide the training and awareness programs required for workers to become the true drivers of change.
  • Consistency: This is intrinsically linked to the target and involves keeping true to your strategy in order to achieve it. Problems arise when your objective changes (which, in addition to additional expenses, could also cost you your customers and other players in the market), or you’re constantly changing your strategy to achieve said goal. The latter may be even more damaging than the first, as it generally makes you lose credibility within the organization and demotivates or disgruntles employees, who may start looking for other jobs – or, even worse, stay!

For a company that devotes itself to technology, as is Teldat, the process of transformation must be constant and continuous. Otherwise, to keep operating in a market as demanding as this for over 30 years would have been impossible. As for the definition of targets, our transformations are linked to significant modifications in our technology and business model (i.e., focusing on new product lines dedicated to software defined networks and on foreseeable market changes where we are already at work). Regarding our personnel; many young and enthusiastic people have joined Teldat over this last year. They are offering new and exciting perspectives on how to do things, which fully compliment the experience of our older hands and greatly favor internal changes.

And the consistency of our objective and strategy (given the enormity of transforming corporate WAN networks) is something that will become very evident to all our customers and followers in the following months.
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