SKT prepares to enter Chinese IoT market with gas meter

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SKT prepares to enter Chinese IoT market with gas meter

SK Telecom is set to enter the Chinese Internet of Things (IoT) market with a remote gas metering system.

The telecom company announced on Thursday that it inked a memorandum of understanding with the Economic and Information Commission of Chongqing Province, Chongqing Gas and China Mobile to develop a remote gas metering system utilizing an IoT network in Chongqing, a major city in southwest China.

Chongqing is one of nine pilot cities selected by the Chinese government in 2013 to develop under its smart city program as the country accelerates its urbanization projects. The city has been in partnerships with companies such as IT giant Tencent and video surveillance products supplier Hikvision with the aim of accelerating digitization.

Under the agreement SK Telecom will establish its own IoT network called “LoRa” in Chongqing using base stations operated by Chinese local mobile carrier China Mobile. Chongqing Gas, the top gas provider in Chongqing, will likely finance the metering system while co-developing a localized “smart gas meter” with the Korean mobile carrier.

The smart gas meter helps users monitor gas usage using their computer or smartphone so they can respond quickly to potential gas leaks. The device will help metermen check the gas usage of 4.5 million households in Chongqing without visiting each home on foot, according to SK Telecom.

The carrier on Thursday also started a pilot service of “smart streetlights” in China in hand with Korean start-ups including Ecolant, a smart lighting solutions provider. The smart streetlights light up based on the movement of pedestrians on the street in front of chipmaker SK Hynix’s Chongqing office. SK Telecom hopes the pilot service will lead to an expansion of its IoT service in China.

“We plan to offer diverse IoT services in China including position detection services for the elderly and children as well as on-going remote gas meter systems and smart streetlight services,” said Cha In-hyok, head of the IoT business division at SK Telecom. “In the longer term we aim to create new business models catered to China based on big data collected through the IoT network we have established.”

While a general agreement to set up the IoT-based smart gas meter system in Chongqing has been made by the four parties, discussions on the business value of the project are still ongoing. The project will take off after a thorough evaluation of its profitability, according to a spokesperson from SK Telecom. Usually that process takes two or more months.

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