Vodafone said Wednesday that it will launch what it called “the world’s first live commercial NB-IoT networks” in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain in the first three months of 2017.
NB-IoT is the newly agreed standard for an industrial grade Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network layer that will allow millions of everyday objects to be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).
For Vodafone, the NB-IoT rollout will involve a simple software upgrade to its existing 4G base stations. This means that the rollout will be rapid and will deliver nationwide coverage almost immediately. The initial rollouts will be followed by other markets during the rest of the year with full coverage of Vodafone’s global network by 2020.
The development of NB-IoT has been supported by over 20 of the world’s largest mobile operators, who provide communications to over 2.9 billion customers and geographically serve over 90% of the IoT market.
NB-IoT offers longer battery life, lower cost, extended coverage and operates in licenced spectrum, translating to improved reliability for users. Overall, NB-IoT will act as the catalyst for companies to consider connecting things that would not have been viable with existing technologies.
Last week, Vodafone completed the world’s first test of an NB-IoT connected product on a commercial network.
“The questions of battery life and deep in-building penetration have now been answered by NB-IoT. The low cost of the modules means we can expect a new wave of connected devices and soaring market demand,” said Ivo Rook, Vodafone’s Director of Internet of Things.