Certification is a key step in developing India’s standard based IoT ecosystem, to benefit from oneM2M’s technical standard


A delegation from the Indian government’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) attended oneM2M’s 8th Interoperability Test event in Seoul, Korea and shared their views on the IoT market and progress towards the adoption of oneM2M standards in India. For this interview, we spoke to Mr. Manish Saxena and Ms. Namrata Singh.

Q: Would you begin by introducing yourselves to our readers?

MS: My name is Manish Saxena. I am an Indian Telecommunication Service (ITS) officer and presently working as the Director at Network and Technology Wing, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications, Government of India. My role includes Policy formulation and regulatory aspects related to Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications including identification of critical M2M/IoT and to facilitate proliferation of IoT across India.

To place DoT’s activities into perspective, let me begin by saying that the role of the DoT is to make policies, to develop licensing frameworks and to coordinate activities related to all forms of Telecommunications.

DoT also has C-DOT (Centre for Development of Telematics) under its purview, which is an autonomous Telecom R&D centre of DoT. C-DOT is responsible for working towards the betterment of India’s Telecom Sector. We also work with TSDSI, which is an autonomous, membership based, Standards Development Organization (SDO) for Telecom/ICT products and services in India.

NS: And I am Namrata Singh. I am also an Indian Telecommunication Service (ITS) officer and currently hold the post of Assistant Director General (IoT) at TEC, DoT, India.

Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC) is the technical wing of the DoT. It deals with standardization activities for the telecommunication sector in India, including participation in international bodies such as the ITU, 3GPP, ETSI, ISO/ IEC and oneM2M among others. My focus is on standardization aspects related to the IoT domain. 

Q: India formally adopted oneM2M Release 2 standards in 2020 and Release 3 in 2022. Would you describe the process that led up to that decision?

NS: M2M and IoT have been on our radar for a long time. We recognize the importance of a standards-based approach having noted how well it works in the communications sector.

DoT/TEC launched a consultation process in February 2019 to study the oneM2M standard. To begin with, we knew about proprietary standards and were aware of the home automation standard from the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). Since our needs in India are broader and we were working against a backdrop of India’s 100 Smart Cities initiative, we looked for other possibilities as well.

During our consultative process, we learned about benefits of using oneM2M’s standard. Its horizontal architecture approach makes it applicable to multiple verticals. We also saw the power of its fourteen Common Service Functions and interworking feature, which provide developers with a reusable set of capabilities for building IoT systems.

The Consultative Committee deliberated with many ICT organizations as part of the process. Of course, there were many in favour of standardization but there was also some resistance, as a few organizations expressed concerns about additional costs being imposed. After addressing some of these concerns, the Consultative Committee submitted their recommendation of adopting oneM2M as a National Standard to the apex level committee. Due to an extended approval process caused by pandemic operating conditions, India officially adopted oneM2M Release 2 in September 2020 and later Release 3 in August 2022. These National standards are available on the TEC website. These national standards shall be voluntary unless made mandatory by its use, reference, or adoption by regulation or Government directive.

Q: What have been the key developments since that decision was announced?

MS: We see our job as facilitating different stakeholders across India to help them learn about and implement open-standards solutions. Part of this involves a process of awareness raising and education. Many organizations are still not aware of oneM2M, so the choice of implementing standardized solutions is not part of their technical decision-making process. We conduct many training programs, workshops and webinars on a range of topics such as IoT, oneM2M standards and security for IoT systems. Some of these activities focus on IoT/M2M applications in different verticals such as power, transport, agriculture, and health for example.

Post pandemic, we have started organizing offline seminars and conferences, one of which is a two-day event on 14-15 December 2022. C-DOT is organizing this Global Conference, on "Growth of the IoT/M2M Ecosystem through Standardized Implementations", in collaboration with TSDSI and the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Govt. of India.  

 NS: From an implementation standpoint, C-DOT has already implemented a oneM2M platform called CCSP which is based on Release 3 features in the oneM2M standard. C-DOT has gained considerable expertise in working from the raw, technical specifications to implement their CCSP offering. That is useful for other organizations that want to build on a market-ready oneM2M platform instead of developing their own.

C-DOT has set up a Centre of Innovation to collaborate with industry start-ups as well as small and medium-sized enterprises that want to develop innovative, smart solutions based on oneM2M standards. The center will help applicants in testing their IoT/M2M solutions and applications with the CCSP before the deployment. These activities will help to create an ecosystem of indigenous solution developers and system integrators for the development and deployment of oneM2M standards compliant IoT solutions.

Another agency, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), which is located in Trivandrum has also implemented a system based on oneM2M. This is C-DAC’s Adaptive Traffic Control System (ATCS) which is part of an intelligent transport system in the southern part of India.

During the consultative process for the adoption of oneM2M, we also got to know that the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad (IIIT-H) is using oneM2M in their Smart City Living Lab. They have been organising hackathons based on oneM2M as well. I believe that oneM2M is also a part of their teaching curriculum.

Q: What plans does DoT have for the next phase of oneM2M adoption?

NS: We are making continuous efforts in making other organizations aware of the oneM2M standard. One such step is sending letters to different ministries/ organizations post adoption.

As an extended outcome post adoption of oneM2M Release 2 standards, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) referred these standards as normative or informative references in its standard IS 18004-1:2021 on IoT Reference Architecture. This information was submitted to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) for adoption in Smart Cities. MoHUA has referred the BIS publication in the ICCC/ ICT Model RFP 2.0 (Section-1, Volume-II: Scope of work – Core Infrastructure) for Smart Cities and released an Advisory number 19, dated 7th July 2021, to Smart City SPVs. These developments will help with awareness raising and eventually alignment through oneM2M-based solutions. These standards, if used in smart cities platforms, will facilitate data sharing across verticals and in turn will resolve the issues like interoperability.

MS: Another DoT initiative to develop the IOT ecosystem in India is to register M2M/IoT service providers. This process began under the Guidelines for Registration Process of M2M Service Providers- M2MSP and WPAN/WLAN Connectivity Providers for M2M Services released by DoT in Feb 2022.

NS: Post adoption, we are looking for oneM2M based testing and certification in the country as a next step in developing the market in India. TEC is the nodal agency for carrying out MTCTE (Mandatory Testing and Certification of Telecom Equipment) under which each telecom equipment, including smart devices, have to undergo testing for EMI/ EMC, safety, security, IPv4/ Ipv6 protocols, technical interfaces etc., prior to their deployment in the network. However, presently it is mostly for hardware systems. oneM2M is different because it applies to software. We therefore need to re-think how oneM2M may be brought under this framework, if possible, or if we need some new policy measures for that.

As oneM2M standards are continuously evolving with every future release, we may adopt future releases also, after their transposition by TSDSI.

Q: Do you have any other insights to share based on your experience in the IoT sector?

NS: One of the biggest challenges we see is around the lack of awareness around IoT standardization. This is not specific to India. We hear the same message in our discussions with representatives from other parts of the world as well. Many organizations are prepared to build and deploy one-off or proprietary solutions. Of course, it is commercially lucrative to offer quick and easy solutions to shorten the time to market launch. It is also lucrative for solution providers to charge for making additions and building custom integrations. We see this as short-term thinking. It is not an approach that will help IoT to scale. Except for the larger organizations, this does not help solution providers to take solutions from one city or region and quickly re-use them elsewhere. This leads to the major problem of interoperability and vendor lock-in.

Within TEC, we are in discussions with experts from oneM2M, ETSI, the Global Certification Forum (GCF) and TTA. Our aim is to explore the possibilities for developing a oneM2M based testing and certification framework and ecosystem in India to ensure standards based IoT deployments in the country. In parallel, we will continue to support the work of C-DOT and TSDSI whose efforts are on raising awareness of oneM2M, as well as the benefits and reusability of open standard solutions.

MS: Before we finish, I would like to mention that oneM2M will hold its next Technical Plenary in Delhi, India during February 2023. I believe there will be additional events to help organizations get to know more about oneM2M standards and interact with one another.