Vodafone to launch NB-IoT in 'multiple markets' in 2017

Vodafone said it plans to launch narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) in "multiple markets" in 2017, and called on the industry to focus on trials that would enable customers to quickly add the technology to their products.

In a blog post, Erik Brenneis, group director for the Internet of Things at Vodafone, said the technology would enable more low-cost devices to be connected to the Internet, creating "new market segments where nothing is connected today because, frankly, it is too expensive."

In future, Brenneis said, manufacturers will be able to create connected devices that wholesale for just a few dollars by using NB-IoT.

"That is really significant. Smoke detectors, for example, retail for $5 [€4.42] today. They cannot sell for $20 just because they are connected," he commented.

Indeed, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and IoT technologies dubbed low power wide area (LPWA) networks are deemed a critical element in the platforms that will in future support the burgeoning range of connected objects with long battery lives and low data rate requirements.

Proprietary technologies such as Sigfox, Ingenu and LoRa have already made clear their ambitions to become globally available standards for public LPWA networks using unlicensed spectrum. They also face competition from cellular IoT technologies such as NB-IoT that fall under the 3GPP standardisation umbrella and will operate in licensed spectrum.

Vodafone has clearly decided to throw its hat in the NB-IoT ring even before standards are fully defined, and has already teamed up with Huawei to launch what it describes as the "world's first NB-IoT open lab" in the UK.

Brenneis noted that NB-IoT operates in licensed spectrum, "and that is important to us at Vodafone because we need to deliver a high-quality experience to our customers."

He also made a dig at the alternative proprietary technologies: "The alternative, using unlicensed spectrum, risks disruption to the signal from other technologies trying to use the same frequencies," he said.

For more:
- see the Vodafone blog

Related articles:
Machina Research: 'Missing' IoT revenue boosts forecasts to $4T by 2025
Report: No 'one-type-fits-all' connectivity for IoT applications
Sigfox scores first MEA deployment with Omantel deal
KPN marches towards nationwide LoRa IoT coverage with western expansion
LPWANs: can proprietary and cellular technologies co-exist in this crowded battlefield?