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Europe-wide project for NB-IoT product development – Deutsche Telekom

Digital Networks IoT Broadband Internet

Periodically, Telecoms.com invites third parties from the industry to address some of the biggest challenges in the market today. In this post, Alexander Lautz, SVP of M2M at Deutsche Telekom shares the company’s experience in rolling out early trials of NB-IoT.

To accelerate NB-IoT market adoption now the Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) standard has been set, Deutsche Telekom is developing cutting-edge prototypes at its NB-IoT Prototyping Hub together with selected partners and startups to ensure a swift and easy time to market.

The Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology Narrowband-IoT is driving some of the hottest innovations for the Internet of Things (IoT). It has great potential as a networking standard. Analysys Mason experts anticipate that the number of LPWA connections will increase from 50 million today to over three billion by 2023.

Deutsche Telekom recently set up its NB-IoT Prototyping Hub to tap this enormous growth. “We want to accelerate the market introduction and advance the ecosystem surrounding the NB-IoT technology together with experts, partners, and startups with this program,” says Alexander Lautz, Senior Vice President M2M at Deutsche Telekom.

The reasons for this huge increase in LPWA connection numbers are clear and compelling. LPWA technologies, including NB-IoT, meet the low bandwidth requirements for machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things use cases in the industrial, public and consumer domains. In particular, there are three properties that open up completely new market opportunities:

LPWA technologies offer lower costs compared to existing M2M/IoT technologies. This makes networking possible in areas where traditional wireless connections would simply be too expensive and unprofitable.

Plus, LPWA technologies do not specifically require an external power source as power consumption is low. So many M2M applications do not require a permanent connection to the electricity grid. Enabling a service that can operate on battery power for up to a decade creates countless new application opportunities everywhere – from agriculture to the water utilities sector.

Another advantage of LPWA technologies is their extended coverage and deep indoor penetration. The ability to transmit signals from a cellar or an underground garage allows widespread usage even when modules are placed in challenging locations.

Unlike other proprietary LPWA technologies, Deutsche Telekom operates Narrowband-IoT in a licensed spectrum based on the recent 3GPP standard and can rely on its established, extensive infrastructure. “We want to offer our customers IoT solutions based on our wireless network that work with international standards worldwide,” says Lautz. “That way we enable good planning and ensure strong security measures and high operational reliability in a comprehensive, globally accessible NB-IoT ecosystem.”

Deutsche Telekom launched its NB-IoT Prototyping Hub in order to be able to offer new NB-IoT products quickly while building and expanding an entire ecosystem around the new networking technology. This initiative will facilitate cooperation between Deutsche Telekom’s IoT experts, partners, and innovative startups, as well as with current and potential customers.

It is an ideal way to increase the potential of the entire sector and make the most of the opportunities Narrowband-IoT already offers. The goal is to create a continuous Narrowband-IoT value chain that will bring both enterprise and consumer applications to market as quickly as possible. It will also ensure the specific compatibility of all solutions while promoting further development of the technology in general.

Everyone benefits from the NB-IoT Prototyping Hub. Deutsche Telekom can position itself as a partner for Narrowband-IoT solutions and business models. “We especially want to use the opportunity to shape the Narrowband-IoT market and work with innovative firms. They can learn from our NB-IoT knowledge,” says Lautz. Deutsche Telekom can also ensure that all prototypes adhere to the necessary standards by being directly involved in product development.

The participating startups receive direct access to NB-IoT technology. Along with a starter pack containing the latest hardware and software, they can tap Deutsche Telekom’s extensive expertise. Each startup has a designated mentor at its side. Mentors, startups, and potential customers meet at regular intervals to network, exchange ideas, and discuss their progress. This cooperation helps firms to drastically reduce the time to market (TTM) for their Narrowband-IoT products while also facilitating valuable new connections.

The startup initiative, undertaken in cooperation with Deutsche Telekom’s hub:raum startup incubators in Berlin and Krakow, has met with considerable international attention. Startups from 26 countries have already signaled interest in cooperation. In particular, prototypes for logistics and metering applications have been very popular.

What is Narrowband-IoT?

IoT applications have extremely diverse operating requirements calling for an equally diverse selection of networks. One example is critical machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, such as remote control of machines, which demands the real-time exchange of data via a highly available and reliable connection. The best option for such applications is LTE or will soon be the 5G wireless standard. For networking over short distances, such as linking computers or tablets at home, a LAN or WiFi connection works just fine. But until recently there was no networking standard that offered greater range at low cost and minimum energy usage.

That standard is now Narrowband-IoT. Using licensed spectrum, the new technology can handle a large number of connections per cell, has a battery life of up to 10 years, and offers deep indoor penetration with an extra 20 decibels compared to GPRS. It is particularly well suited for applications requiring only low bandwidths, such as intelligent parking systems, smart meters, and waste management.

Deutsche Telekom and Narrowband-IoT

Deutsche Telekom is at the vanguard of NB-IoT technology. In October 2015, Deutsche Telekom announced that it had completed the world’s first implementation of pre-standard NB-IOT on commercial network elements by software upgrade only. The company has also played a leading role in global standardization within the 3GPP and GSMA organizations. The 3GPP specifications were finalized in June 2016.

Alexander Lautz Deutsche TelekomDr. Alexander Lautz is currently in charge of the M2M Business Unit at Deutsche Telekom AG. In this role he is responsible for developing innovative machine-to-machine products and solutions. Dr. Lautz joined T-Mobile Deutschland GmbH in 2002, first as Head of Business Marketing, before taking over as Head of Consumer Marketing in 2004. When Deutsche Telekom launched congstar as its second brand in Germany in 2007, Lautz took over as Managing Director of the company. In 2011, he moved to the Connected Car growth initiative, where he was responsible for marketing, services, and technology. Before his career at Deutsche Telekom, Dr. Lautz held different management positions at CNI GmbH and Mannesmann Arcor AG and was Managing Director of an IP provider for business customers.

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