Connected cars are becoming the norm, and Hyundai and Kia are the latest vehicle manufacturers to jump on board.
Hyundai AutoEver Telematics America (HATA), a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group, has announced a partnership with Bell Canada that would allow the group to use the Canadian telecommunication company’s national mobile network to deliver connected services such as security, safety, diagnostics, and infotainment in its vehicles.
Connected capabilities will be available in Hyundai and Kia cars, SUVs and crossovers via Hyundai’s BlueLink and Kia’s UVO Intelligence in-vehicle services, starting this summer. Bell’s technology will power features including emergency roadside assistance, automatic collision notifications, remote start, climate control, local search, remote door lock/unlock, maintenance alerts, and on-demand diagnostics.
Bell has been working with HATA over the last three years to launch this connected car agreement, assisting in “design, certification, testing and provisioning.” Going forward, the company will work closer with HATA to “further enhance the driving experience,” Gary Semplonius, vice president of business sales and marketing for Bell Mobility, says in a June 8 press release.
“Integrating Bell wireless technology with Hyundai BlueLink and Kia UVO Intelligence underscores Bell’s place at the forefront of the Internet of Things (IoT) connected car movement,” he adds. “Our partnership with HATA will enable exceptional new services that improve the connected vehicle experience for both drivers and passengers.”
Don Romano, president and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada Corp., continues with this sentiment, saying that the partnership will allow drivers and passengers a “seamless technological experience on the road.”
“BlueLink takes advantage of Bell’s national mobile network to reliably deliver a range of services to improve safety, comfort and convenience for Hyundai customers coast to coast. Customers will undoubtedly appreciate the capabilities and ease of use of Hyundai BlueLink and how this cutting-edge telematics service will improve their drive,” he explains.
Hyundai will introduce BlueLink services, complimentary for five years from vehicle purchase, with its 2018 Elantra GT 5-door compact car, as well as the 2018 Sonata mid-size sedan and other vehicles in its line-up.
Connected features will also be available free for the first five years in the 2018 Kia Optima and newly redesigned subcompact 2018 Kia Rio five-door.
“By adding Bell’s reliable and built-in wireless connection, we can provide our customers with an innovative driving and riding experience, from safety and diagnostics to the integration of third-party apps,” says Ted Lancaster, vice president and COO of Kia Canada.
This partnership comes as Bell moves to be a leader in the IoT space, launching a new, faster LTE-M network earlier this month that aims to improve the efficiency of IoT devices.
BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada says it will launch a new Long Term Evolution, category M1 (LTE-M) network across Canada in 2018, specifically designed to support the rapid growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Bell says the LTE-M network will be ideal for large-scale IoT deployments such as smart metering of electricity or water, asset tracking, supply chain management, security and alarm monitoring, and personable wearables for healthcare purposes. It enables very low power consumption while also providing better coverage in underground and other hard to reach locations.
The LTE-M network is a software upgrade that Bell will be making to its current LTE network, supported by the same towers and backhaul infrastructure, says Michael Widner, director of product management, for Bell Mobility. The network sets aside 1.4 MHz of spectrum that gives priority to devices using the LTE-M protocol. That segment is still shared with the rest of the network, but will give IoT devices higher priority.
“It’s actually a software upgrade on our existing radio access network,” he says.
Developers creating IoT solutions will benefit from LTE-M in several ways, Widner says. First off the LTE-M modules used to connect an IoT device to the network are cheaper, only about 20 per cent of the cost of LTE modules. Also, the devices will see longer battery life when using the LTE-M network and see a more reliable signal if located underground.
“That processing that an IoT device does is far, far less than a smartphone, that’s the main reason the battery life is much longer,” he says. “There’s a number of power saving modes included in the standard, and it’s communicating at far lower power.”
The protocol can also trade off speed for reliability with IoT devices because of the applications they are providing. So the protocol can allow for repeat transmissions to receive any packets lost in the original transmission. Bell’s LTE-M protocol will the the same standard as is being used across North America, Widner says, supported by U.S. carriers such as AT&T. So developers can create a connectivity solution that will be ready to deploy across the continent.
Bell worked with development partner BeWhere Inc., an industrial IoT solutions firm that focuses on tracking real-time information on movable assets. For example, its asset tracking and monitoring applications for Emergency Management Service (EMS) provides paramedics and other EMS personnel with real-time location of emergency equipment. The company plans to use Bell’s new network to support its new beacon and cloud-based applications.
There’s no specific timeline for when the rollout will begin in 2018, but Widner expects that by the end of 2018 Bell will have LTE-M live across its entire network. The rollout may be started in the densest regions of population first, Widner says. That’s in line with Bell’s past strategy for network rollouts.
While exact pricing details haven’t been released, Widner points to Bell’s current subscription plans for IoT connectivity as the model to expect.
BCE Inc.’s Bell announced on Monday that it is now reselling the full suite of Microsoft Azure services and providing private broadband network access to the public cloud.
The new services build on a partnership announced by Bell and Microsoft Canada last May. Then, Bell was the first Canadian telecommunications carrier to access Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute, meaning that Bell Cloud Connect customers had direct and dedicated network access to Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics CRM Online. Now Bell is offering Azure’s Compute, Backup, and Disaster Recovery services through the same access.
Providing access to Microsoft’s public cloud service is complementary to Bell’s own outsourced data centre services, which includes the Q9 Networks Inc. business it acquired last August, explains Mike LaPalme, director of product management at Bell.
“Customers are going to consume cloud from a hybrid perspective,” he says. “They’ll consume capabilities that are private cloud-oriented, that’s a capability we have today with the Q9 partnership, and the Microsoft Azure relationship is the public cloud component.”
LaPalme defines public cloud as a multi-tenant, shared environment and private cloud as one cluster per customer.
Azure isn’t the first public cloud service that Bell has partnered with. It launched a similar direct-access partnership with IBM Corp.’s Canadian cloud offerings in February 2016.
By physically connecting with its public cloud partners at major access points like Toronto and Montreal, Bell Cloud Connect helps customers guide their data in transit in addition to controlling where it’s physically stored. LaPalme says Bell’s connections to Azure are made only at its three Canadian data centre locations.
“It’s a dedicated layer three, MPLS network,” he says. “It’s an alternative to the public Internet.”
That helps provide not only support for compliance requirements that might require data to stay within Canadian borders, but LaPalme says it improves performance and security as well. It also allows customers using both private cloud at Bell’s 28 data centres and Azure services to more easily migrate workloads.
Bell Cloud Connect is paid for on a subscription basis and the pricing for Azure services is consistent with other Azure partners across the country, he adds.
BCE Inc. will be able to acquire Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. under the $3.9 billion deal the telecommunication carriers made last year as federal regulators are giving the green light on the transaction, according to announcements made by the carriers on Wednesday morning.
With the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Competition Bureau approving the acquisition, a new Bell MTS brand will be launched March 17. Since making a deal with MTS on May 2, 2016, Bell said it would invest $1 billion over five years to enhance broadband networks and services across Manitoba. Those upgrades include introducing Bell’s Gigabit Fibe Internet, Fibe TV, and Bell’s LTE wireless network.
Working with regulators to earn clearance to acquired the largest telecom services provider in Manitoba, Bell MTS will transfer 40 MHz of spectrum from the 700 MHz, AWS-1 and 2500 MHZ wireless bands to Woodstock, N.B.-based Xplornet Communications Inc. It will also transfer 24,700 wireless customers and six total retail outlets to Xplornet once it launches its mobile wireless service in the province. Currently, Xplornet offers satellite Internet services in Manitoba.
“We’re quite pleased,” says Mirko Bibic, chief legal and regulatory officer, BCE Inc. “Today is a very good day.”
Bell expected to part with some spectrum because both it and MTS were at the spectrum limit to hold in Manitoba, he adds. Bell tried to get an exemption, but that wasn’t granted. Since the spectrum couldn’t be
Xplornet is also to receive transitional remedy network access from Bell MTS in urban areas for three years and other operational support as it builds out its own network.
In further concessions, and previously announced in the May 2 deal, Bell will divest to Telus Corp. about one-quarter of MTS postpaid subscriber for proceeds of about $300 million and 13 MTS retail locations.
In its statement, Bell says that it now expects to find “cost synergies” of about $100 million from the integration with MTS, which is double the previous $50 million it forecast. Those savings will come from reduced wireless roaming and network sharing, network backhaul and wholesale costs, increased wholesale revenue, and volume-based purchasing advantages.
“We’ll be able to secure better terms from manufacturers compared to MTS,” Bibic says. “There’s no payments to other carriers for roaming out of the province, same thing with backhaul.”
When asked if layoffs were in the works, Bibic says that Bell is investing $1 billion to improve networks in the province and intends to grow its buisness there. While there will be some obvious redundancies to eliminate in the executive positions, no other plans for layoffs exist currently.
“You can’t grow without people locally,” he says. “The planning hasn’t been done, we don’t even own the company yet.”
Look out for financial guidance targets to reflect those benefits in the Q1 results released April 26, Bell says. It provides a list of new business opportunities as a result of the merger:
The $50 million data centre was built by CDN Top 100 Solution Provider Epic Information Systems. The 72,000 sq. ft. commercial, multi-tenant data centre opened in 2015, and MTS said it will position the company to become a leading provider of server colocation, managed hosting and cloud services in the province.
MTS CEO Pierre Blouin said this state-of-the-art data centre would deliver world-class solutions to Manitoba businesses, fulfilling an important and growing business need.
With the release of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, Bell Canada will become the first in North America to offer Quad Band LTE Advanced (LTE-A) network speeds.
This means that the Canadian carrier can deliver broadband speeds of up to 750 megabits per second (Mbps) with expected average speeds of 22 to 174 Mbps. The new Quad Band LTE speed is up from what customers experience in current Dual Band LTE speeds that max out at 550 Mbps with an expected average of 18 to 150 Mbps. To get to the news speeds, Bell added 256 QAM technology to its service.
This technology is also known as 4-carrier aggregation that “leverages multiple bands of wireless spectrum to boost top Tri Band LTE-A mobile data speeds”.
The announcement of the new wireless network furthers the partnership the carrier has with Samsung. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be the first smartphone devices that Bell carries to take advantage of the increased network capabilities.
In the future, Galaxy S8 software will automatically be upgrades to operate naturally on Bell Quad Band 256 QAM LTE. Both phones will become available at Bell (and other major Canadian carriers) on April 21.
The Quad Band LTE-A wireless network comes less than a year after the company reported that it had successfully demoed 5G network technology through Bell’s partnership with Nokia. According to Bell, 5G speeds could provide sustained broadband data speeds more than six times faster than the current 4G mobile speeds available in Canada.
How we communicate with others via our mobile phones has been in constant flux since the first cellphone was created, from voice calling to text messaging to a variety of third party applications.
Now, Bell Mobility is the first telecommunications company in Canada to launch Advanced Messaging, a suite of mobile messaging features previously only available through third party apps, and has partnered with Samsung to integrate the experience into its latest generation of smartphones.
Advanced Messaging will allow users to send longer messages (up to 8,000 characters) and create group chats with up to 100 people, as well as transfer files like PDFs, XLS, and ZIP files, send high-resolution images and longer videos. It also boasts sent, received, and read receipts, notifications for when the other person is typing as a way to simplify real-time conversations, and combine all Advanced Messaging messages, SMS, and MMS messages into one conversation view.
“Advanced Messaging is not a new concept, but we’re the first in Canada to launch it in a more user-friendly way that works right out of the box so that you don’t have to download another app or configure the device,” Jeff Gilmore, direct of product management at Bell Mobility, tells IT World Canada. “Advanced Messaging brings to our customers the features that they expect now, with all the third-party apps out there already. And this is not a competition either, we expect our customers to message in many means and across multiple platforms, like Facebook Messenger or LinkedIn’s in-house messaging, because they have lots of choices. The value of our experience, however, is that it just works, no app needed.”
Gilmore adds that he’s proud to work with Samsung, a company that’s “a supportive and willing partner” of bringing such an experience to the market in an integrated sense.
Samsung’s Note8, Galaxy S8, and S8+ will be the first mobile phones to deliver Bell’s Advanced Messaging platform, with other devices to be added in the future. The messaging platform is currently only available between Bell customers who have these phones, and like Apple’s iMessage or BlackBerry’s BBM, Advanced Messaging will come completely integrated in these phones right out of the box.
“We are committed to helping accelerate and expand advanced messaging through our infrastructure and services, and thrilled to deliver this experience to our Galaxy Note8, Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ customers through Bell,” Paul Brannen, COO and executive vice president of mobile devices for Samsung Canada, explains in an Aug. 30 press release.
Advanced Messaging is more than just a specialized messaging experience, however. Gilmore points out that in the future, it will be able to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies to further enhance customer interactions.
“We built a platform that, in the future, will allow you to carry on conversations on different devices as you go from smartphones to television screens, then shift from text to video,” he says. “Then you have AI, which is maturing at a tremendous rate and will change how customers interact with service providers like banks or hotels. Looking ahead, when that is integrated into our Advanced Messaging, users will be able to book a hotel through messaging, and more. It will change to how you talk to people around you as well as the companies you interact with.”
One year after announcing the full acquisition of Toronto-based data centre provider Q9 Networks, BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada is firming up its strategy for the Bell Business Cloud as a partner that can provide control over both public and private cloud deployments.
Q9 was investing in a nationwide private cloud offering that offered the benefits of Canadian data residency before its August 2016 acquisition by Bell. The telecommunications carrier plans to continue supporting those services, as well as a connection to public cloud service through a partnership with Microsoft Azure. To marry the two worlds of public and private cloud offerings, Bell will be doing a marketing push that focuses on a connect-first approach to the cloud that offers a convenient way to manage their cloud infrastructure.
“We’re making sure our customers are at the centre of the equation and we’re doing that with our self-service portal,” says Mike LaPalme, director of product management for IoT, data centre, and cloud services at Bell. “One multi-cloud portal to rule them all, with the ability to consume, manage, access private and public cloud whether it’s Bell infrastructure or not.”
Bell will be looking to make deals with other public cloud providers, he adds. LaPalme points to the IBM Cloud partnership that Bell made in February 2016 as another example of the connections it can provide for the enterprise. Its Bluemix platform as a service offering is a good complement to the applications as a service offered through Azure, he says. Bell is interested in expanding both its cloud platform and applications offerings, notably analytics and business intelligence.
Partnering with infrastructure providers is a good strategy for carriers, says Sid Nag, research director for cloud, at Gartner Inc. While carriers missed the boat on building out a cloud network initially, they can now come to the table and provide a connection point for customers.
“They certainly have deep pockets to build another public cloud enivonrment, but then you have to compete with the companies that are already market leaders,” he says. “Plus a different skill set is needed to run these data centres.”
LaPalme says that alignment of Q9’s services is ongoing at Bell, but has been going smoothly because Bell was involved with company strategy as an investor even before the full acquisition. Work is being done on connecting the Q9 datacentres into one rational infrastructure with its own, and some of the other acquisitions that it’s picked up recently. With 28 “bunker-style data centres” across the country, Bell is already the largest operator of data centres in Canada.
“Bell is not morphing into an IT company, it’s fortifying its strengths around the network,” he says. “We could perhaps be the trusted entity that a customer reaches out to access all infrastructure.”
Meeting the customer with a hybrid approach should work well, according to Nag. Few enterprises will want to jump into using public cloud services with two feet.
“Nobody is flipping a switch and moving everything to the public cloud,” he says. “They want an interim that’s also hosted on private.”
As for its competition in this space, LaPalme says it remains the same as with other service offerings – Bell is up against the cloud services being offered by other telecommunication carriers in Canada. According to an IDC Canada assessment of data centre operations and management released in September 2016, Bell was placed in the “major players” category while Telus and Rogers were considered to be in the “leaders” category. But that same report also placed Q9 in the leaders category as a separate entity from Bell.
Bell isn’t looking to build any new large data centre facilities in the near future, but it could tap the space in some of its 1,700 central offices across Canada to create cloud nodes that push its edge closer to certain customers. LaPalme describes them as potential satellites to the main data centres.
“Our roadmap has the objective of becoming Canada’s cloud service broker,” he says. “You don’t get there without a focus on the network and getting our customers to the required workload through the most effective method.”
In doing so, Bell will be looking at changing some of the key performance indicators it’s using to measure its cloud services. It’s moving away from yield per volt amp and towards yield per square foot.
That measurement approach makes sense to Nag, who points out that a server that is not virtualized still draws the same power as one that is running 65 virtual machines. The edge network approach is also a traditional networking approach to deliver services.
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