Vodafone prepares international NB-IoT launch

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Erik Brenneis, Vodafone’s head of IoT, has announced the company will be launching NB-IoT in multiple markets next year.

In a blog reflecting on the creation of the first open lab dedicated to the development of NB-IoT in partnership with Huawei, Brenneis said that although IoT is already growing rapidly by using existing mobile technology, special low-power wireless technologies like NB-IoT are necessary to enable new markets that find the current connectivity paradigm too expensive.

“Our 2G networks are connecting devices that only require low levels of data transfer, like smart meters,” said Brenneis. “However, there is still a group of devices which require a simpler, lower cost network technology. That is where Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks will fit in to provide functions from sensor monitoring to asset tracking, connect millions of products. NB-IoT is expected to be the leading LPWA technology because it has strong industry support.”

It’s clear that Vodafone is squarely in the NB-IoT camp, to the apparent exclusion of proprietary LPWAN technologies such as Sigfox and LoRa. Precedent implies there will be consolidation among the competing LPWAN standards and Vodafone is betting NB-IoT will win.

“NB-IoT operates in licensed spectrum and that is important to us at Vodafone because we need to deliver a high quality experience to our customers,” said Branneis. “The alternative, using unlicensed spectrum, risks disruption to the signal from other technologies trying to use the same frequencies.”

To show how serious Vodafone is about NB-IoT Brenneis revealed the operator will roll out NB-IoT technology in multiple markets during 2017 and that the Newbury lab is just the first of a number that will be opened around the world. Vodafone and Huawei are just two of a number of telco heavy-hitters actively looking to generate momentum around NB-IoT.

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