Vodafone launches first NB-IoT network
Vodafone has launched its first narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) network, looking to connect more than 100 million new devices in Spain.
NB-IoT is one of the finalised standards released last year by the 3GPP last year for low-powered wide area networks (LPWAN), along with LTE-M and ECGSMAOT. The GSMA is predicting 5.5 billion NB-IoT devices will be in use by 2021.
With the launch in Valencia and Madrid, Vodafone becomes one of the first operators to rollout the technology through a commercial network. It will then expand coverage to include Barcelona, Bilboa, Malaga and Seville by the end of March 2017.
Vodafone expects to have more than 1,000 mobile sites supporting NB-IoT in Spain by the end of Q1, with each site able to connect more than 100,000 devices, and increasing signal coverage area by up to seven times.
The deployment, which was carried out with Huawei, uses Vodafone’s existing 800MHz spectrum, which it said is the best use for its 4G airwaves, increasing signal strength and coverage.
"Using licensed spectrum means we also provide customers with the same levels of security as 4G and that the service will not be subject to potential disruption like alternative technologies utilising unlicensed spectrum.
"To launch NB-IoT we just needed to update the software in existing base stations. In Valencia that took just a few hours, which was really fast when you consider that it can take up to a year to add a new 3G or 4G mobile site to a mobile network."
Vodafone has also worked with Nokia and Telit to trial NB-IoT in lab tests in Dusseldorf. Huawei has also been a key proponent of the technology, working with Telia to launch an NB-IoT network in Norway and MTNin Africa.