Swiss mobile communications software company Myriad Group has announced the commercial availability of Thingstream, a device connectivity network built on USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) messaging.
Sometimes referred to as ‘Quick Codes’, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data messaging data is a protocol used by mobile phone networks to communicate with a service provider’s computers. When a user sends a message to the phone company network – to register their phone for the first time, for example, or to query their bill – it is received by a computer dedicated to USSD.
Swiss mobile comms software company Myriad Group has found another use for USSD, however. The protocol sits at the heart of Thingstream, its recently launched machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity technology. According to the company, this platform supports a range of IoT applications suited to devices in motion, or in remote locations or that need to be secure before connected to the cloud. Because USSD is a feature in all cellular networks, Myriad executives argue, it can provide secure IoT connectivity – without the internet being involved at all.
Simplicity is key
Thingstream’s solution uses USSD via the company’s own global roaming M2M SIM, in areas such as asset tracking, logistics, facilities management and environmental monitoring. Its selling point, it seems, is simplicity.
“Today IoT options for industrial applications are too complex, expensive and fail to offer the required level of secure connectivity,” claims Neil Hamilton, vice president of business development at Myriad.
“To date, a typical solution for asset tracking typically involves cellular data. This by default requires not just a suitable roaming carrier partner who can match the enterprise’s footprint, but also means [that] a device needs to support TCP/IP in order to communicate.”
Thingstream’s connectivity approach, he explains, is to remove the ‘Internet’ aspect from the equation, while still allowing small, secure payloads to be delivered to the cloud environment. Using USSD messaging not only removes complexities around carrier roaming, “but importantly, [also] reduces the processing and power consumption required by the transmitting device itself.”
The goal here, then, is secure connections for industrial IoT (IIoT) applications, with a view to overcoming ‘traditional’ challenges associated with connecting remote, moving and roaming devices to networks.
In addition, Myriad also offers Connect Hub, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, which it has announced is now ready to be piloted. Active technical trials with mobile network operators are underway in Kenya and Namibia, with South Africa to follow soon. The firm has completed integration with a mobile payment application for out-of-band authentication, which is expected to launch its service by the end of 2017.