Vodafone launches first NB-IoT network in Spain

Vodafone has confirmed its first commercially available Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network is now operational in Spain, and is celebrating with a glass or two of sangria.

The network itself has been deployed in the existing 800 MHz spectrum, with the team claiming it can increase signal coverage up to seven times, or 20 decibels (dB), compared to existing GSM technology. The technology itself has been designed to accommodate the increased demand for new connected devices, such as smart meters or tracking devices, which are fast becoming more popular around the world.

Although the NB-IoT standards to deliver Low Power Wide Area radio network connectivity were completed in June, Vodafone claims it can take up to two years to roll-out the tech. The team in Spain however only took seven months; maybe it has done away with siesta’s in an effort to make a charge on the market?

“That is a credit to our engineering teams and reflects the active role they had in developing and standardising NB-IoT, working alongside many other technology vendors, enterprise customers and other operators,” said Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone Group Head of Network Strategy & Architecture.

“NB-IoT will be supported by over 20 of the world’s largest mobile operators, who provide communications to over 2.9 billion customers and geographically serve over 90% of the IoT market.

“Valencia and Madrid are the first cities in Spain with NB-IoT. As part of a nationwide roll-out, we will extend coverage to Barcelona, Bilbao, Málaga and Seville by the end of March 2017, when there will be over 1,000 mobile sites supporting NB-IoT. Every NB-IoT mobile site can connect more than 100,000 devices.”

For Vodafone this is a very positive step forward. Although the question of what the operator’s role in the IoT world will be, the promise of fortunes is enough to drive excitement. Although NB-IoT is very much a stepping stone towards the 5G IoT economy, it’ll give the Vodafone team a solid foundation for the future using existing operator networks, optimized to enable IoT.

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