Vodafone identifies first four NB-IoT launch markets

Vodafone networks in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain will be the first to be enabled for NB-IoT transmission in 2017, but development of the device ecosystem will take time

Vodafone identifies first four NB-IoT launch markets

Vodafone will launch it is first live commercial NB-IoT networks in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain in the first three months of 2017. NB or narrowband-IoT is the newly agreed standard for an industrial grade Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network layer that will allow millions of everyday objects to be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).

For Vodafone, the NB-IoT rollout will involve a software upgrade to its existing 4G base stations. This, it claims, means that the rollout will be rapid and will deliver nationwide coverage almost immediately. The initial rollouts will be followed by other markets during the rest of the year with full coverage of Vodafone’s global network by 2020.

NB-IoT offers longer battery life, lower cost, extended coverage and operates in licenced spectrum meaning improved reliability for users. Overall, NB-IoT will act as the catalyst for companies to consider connecting things that would not have been viable with existing technologies.

Consumers will see a huge variety of products, services and applications enabled by NB-IoT, from water and gas meters to smoke alarms and smart car parks. However, Vodafone will not have much to connect until the NB-IoT device ecosystem develops and a wide range of IoT applications actually reaches the market.

NB-IoT is one of the licensed cellular low power, wide area IoT network standards for which the specifications were finalised by 3GPP earlier this year. They provide a licensed cellular alternative to existing solutions such as Sigfox, Ingenu, LoRa and Weightless, which all use unlicensed spectrum.

Last week, Vodafone completed the world’s first test of an NB-IoT connected product on a commercial network. Vodafone Spain connected a parking sensor buried in a space within the Vodafone Plaza in Madrid. A smartphone app displayed that the space was occupied when a car parked in it and went back to free when the car left the space.

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