Leading operators and vendors line up to support NB-IoT industry forum

Vodafone, Telecom Italia and Etisalat have committed to opening six Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) open laboratories as part of their involvement in a new industry forum focused on promoting the development of the technology.

The European and Middle Eastern operators joined Asia Pacific-based counterparts China Mobile, LG Uplus and Shanghai Unicom in committing to creating the open laboratories, which will be used to encourage the development of NB-IoT services, and provide interoperability testing and product compliance certification.

Details of the open laboratory plan were released after a Vodafone-chaired meeting designed to lay the ground work for a new NB-IoT focussed industry forum.

Telefonica, China Unicom, the GSMA, Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Qualcomm, Intel and GTI also pledged their support to the new forum during the meeting, which was held in Hong Kong.

In a joint statement, the partners explained that NB-IoT is "the emerging industry solution for the deployment of Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks using licensed operator spectrum, in-band, guard band and stand-alone deployments" that the group expects to enjoy global scale.

NB-IoT "is designed to provide deep coverage of hard to reach places, supporting a massive number of low throughput, ultra-low cost devices, with low device power consumption and optimised network architecture," the statement continued.

The NB-IoT forum will be hosted within an as yet unnamed "existing industry level organisation," the partners revealed.

Specific goals of the new forum include conducting demonstrations and proof of concept trials designed to match NB-IoT to the needs of LPWA networks. The forum will also seek to promote a vibrant end-to-end industry chain for the technology's development, drive NB-IoT into vertical markets, and promote interoperability of products based on the technology.

The partners said that pilots of pre-NB-IoT technology are currently underway and that the first pre-commercial trials of the technology are likely to begin in the second half of 2016. Those trials should pave the way for commercial NB-IoT deployments from early 2017.

Berg Insight in October noted that moves to develop NB-IoT standards were highly significant because it opens the opportunity to bring a new set of applications into the mobile IoT domain. Such LPWA-based IoT technologies will provide some competition to LTE-based IoT services in the future, the research company predicted.

For more:
- see this NB-IoT forum joint statement

Related articles:
Intel shifts to new chips for Internet of Things
Deutsche Telekom, Huawei claim European first with narrow band IoT trial
Berg Insight: 3G to miss out as cellular IoT market leapfrogs from 2G to 4G
Orange to build LoRa-based IoT network from 2016
GSMA mobile IoT project backed by major EU operators, infrastructure companies