Vodafone, Huawei claim to have sent first pre-standard NB-IoT message

Vodafone Group, Huawei and u-blox claimed a first in the new field of narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology, saying that they sent the first pre-standard NB-IoT message across a live commercial mobile network.

The companies said Vodafone and Huawei successfully integrated the technology onto the operator's existing mobile network in Spain and then sent the first pre-standard NB-IoT message to a u-blox module in a water meter. They noted that the trial, which used Huawei's chipset and software, was the first of its kind to successfully implement narrowband communications in cellular bands.

They explained that water meters are among the many objects that NB-IoT could eventually connect. NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology that offers low cost, long battery life, wide area coverage for objects requiring a long-range mobile connection and low power consumption. The technology promises to achieve up to 10 years' battery life and deep indoor penetration, the companies added.

Matt Beal, director of innovation and architecture at Vodafone Group, said NB-IoT has gained huge industry support as an LPWA technology for licensed spectrum.

"The completion of this first commercial trial with our partners is further evidence of that. Once commercialised, NB-IoT will provide tangible benefits for our enterprise customers, principally making it feasible to connect more devices to the IoT," Beal said.

In new areas such as NB-IoT, the market is nonetheless littered with claims of "firsts". In October, Deutsche Telekom partnered with Huawei to demonstrate what it said is the first field implementation of the technology on a commercial network in Europe.

In November, Vodafone, Telecom Italia and Etisalat also committed to opening six NB-IoT open laboratories as part of their involvement in a new industry forum focused on promoting the development of the technology.

Berg Insight has previously 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.

Industry technology standards for NB-IoT are due to be set in early 2016 within Release-13 from global standards organisation 3GPP.

For more:
- see this Vodafone post

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