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As the first commercial Internet of Things (IoT) networks are being introduced, Ericsson complements its cellular IoT software and IoT Accelerator offerings with a complete set of network services. These services enable service providers to efficiently address the deployment and operation of the massive number of IoT devices being introduced to LTE networks.

Applicable for Cat-M1 (also called LTE-M) and Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) technologies, these services include IoT network design and optimization, deployment, operation and management, and are supported by the recently expanded Support Services offering.

Peter Laurin, Head of Business Area Managed Services, Ericsson, says: "We anticipate IoT devices will surpass mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices as early as 2018 and, according to Ericsson's latest Mobility Report, there will be 18 billion connected IoT devices in 2022. This massive uptake requires a different approach to network planning, design, operations and capabilities than traditional mobile broadband networks."

Ericsson is also introducing new IoT software features, such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE) support for Cat-M1. This will enable operators to explore new use cases in which it can be advantageous for IoT devices to support voice services, opening up opportunities to expand enterprise services to areas such as security alarm panels, remote first-aid kits, wearables, digital locks, disposable security garments, and other types of IoT-enabled applications and services.

Network design and optimization: Heterogeneous IoT networks and diverse use cases with varying needs will require a different approach to network planning and design. To support this, Ericsson is introducing scenario assessment, network modelling, design development, and developmental appraisal for massive IoT networks.

Operation and management of network: To address the need for an adapted approach to management and operation of operators' networks, Ericsson is introducing automated machine learning to its Network Operations Centers (NOCs). These tools will help operators to manage delivery cost and take a proactive approach to event and incident management. In a trial, 80% of all incidents were identified by machine learning only with no human intervention – and the root cause was identified correctly in 77% of cases.

Jamie Moss, Principal Analyst, Consumer Technology and IoT at Ovum, says: "Operators need partners that can help them to introduce new technologies smoothly and quickly. This is especially true in the case of LTE-M and NB-IoT. As enhancements to LTE, they appear to represent the operators' core competency. But LTE-M and NB-IoT will be used, and will be required to perform, in ways that are completely new. Their rollout, the handling of the traffic they generate and the management of the services they exist to enable require network services that offer a comprehensive portfolio of abilities. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are not just buzzwords, but are vital and exciting tools being employed by Ericsson for use within a network to help operators manage the many new devices they will need to serve in the future."

The Ericsson network services and VoLTE for IoT software support in radio and core networks are commercially available now.