Deutsche Telekom expands NB-IoT roaming to 20 countries

Deutsche Telekom HQ
DT says its IoT services are picking up even more momentum. (Deutsche Telekom)

Deutsche Telekom, the German parent company of T-Mobile, has expanded its IoT roaming agreements, making its NB-IoT service now available in 20 countries, including the U.S.

Among those signing onto roaming agreements with DT are Vodafone, Telia, Orange and Telenet (Belgium), Swisscom and Telecom Italia.

T-Mobile’s U.S. network is also on the roster. T-Mobile launched its nationwide NB-IoT network in 2018, initially focusing on applications like fleet tracking, monitors for lighting controls and sensors for overflow conditions.

DT also said LTE-M is now available through DT in 10 countries, referencing AT&T in the U.S. and NTT DoCoMo in Japan. AT&T launched its nationwide LTE-M network in 2017.  

Advantages of LTE-M include the ability for devices in motion and voice over LTE, whereas NB-IoT is optimized for stationary use cases like smart irrigation and building security.

It’s worth noting that DoCoMo announced almost a year ago that it was shutting down its NB-IoT service, saying its low-power Category 1 and LTE-M services would continue to be available. 

RELATED: NTT DoCoMo shuts down NB-IoT service

DT launched its NB-IoT in Europe in 2019 and activated LTE-M in the summer of 2020. According to DT, demand for its cellular-based IoT is increasing, including internationally.

Operators’ licensed-based IoT technologies compete with others that do not require licensed spectrum, such as LoRaWAN and Sigfox. A white paper on DT’s website concludes that for most IoT use cases, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is lower for NB-IoT than for LoRaWAN and Sigfox, so the longer the IoT application is scheduled to run, the greater cost benefit of IoT.

However, it concedes there could be cases where a private LoRaWAN network might be the better choice. It just so happens that DT has struck a partnership with The Things Industries (TTI), a global LoRaWAN network provider. That service uses LTE-M to communicate with gateways and devices.

According to a Gartner report from 2020, the main challenges with 3GPP Low Power Wide Area Networking (LPWAN) are global deployments, which require roaming and interoperability. New technologies accelerating growth in the market will be 5G and edge computing.

But the report noted that the market for 3GPP LPWAN was starting to accelerate due to national deployments in big countries such as China and the U.S., accelerating the price of the modules down to a point where they can better compete with non-3GPP LPWAN technologies such as LoRaWAN or Sigfox, adding to the value of being a standards-based technology.