Vodafone, Huawei and u-blox claim ‘first successful commercial trial’ of pre-standard NB-IoT

Vodafone Group, Huawei, and u-blox have completed the first successful commercial trial of pre-standard NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things).

NB-IoT is a new technology that aims to extend the utilisation of the Internet of Things (IoT) by making it more efficient to connect objects requiring a long battery life and are located in hard to reach areas to the Internet by ways of mobile connectivity.

Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology will connect more objects to the Internet of Things. Able to be deployed over existing mobile networks, NB-IoT has strong industry support as an LPWA technology in licensed spectrum.

Vodafone and Huawei successfully integrated the technology into the operator’s existing mobile network in Spain and then sent the first pre-standard NB-IoT message to a u-blox module installed in a water meter.

Water meters are just one of the many objects that could eventually be connected using NB-IoT. NB-IoT is a LPWA technology that offers low cost, extended battery life, wide area coverage for objects requiring a long range mobile connection (e.g. in basements or in shaded areas) and low power consumption (many devices are not connected to main power supplies or are located in areas where batteries cannot be easily swapped). NB-IoT promises to provide up to 10-year battery life and deep indoor penetration.

The improved penetration and low power requirements enable devices to connect using NB-IoT in a simple and efficient manner over an established mobile network. NB-IoT is viewed by the industry as the answer for enterprise applications in a range of different areas, from utility meters to sensor monitoring to asset-tracking.

The pre-standard NB-IoT commercial technology trial was the first of its kind to successfully implement narrowband communications using cellular bands. The deployment of NB-IoT in a licensed cellular spectrum means it is secure and less susceptible to interference and can provide a better guarantee of service.

Matt Beal, director of Innovation and Architecture, Vodafone Group, commented: “Vodafone has led the development of NB-IoT, the LPWA technology in licensed spectrum that has gained huge industry support. 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 IoT.”

David Wang, president of Huawei’s Wireless Network Product Line, said: “NB-IoT technology has been recognised by the industry. This long-established joint innovation initiative with Vodafone strengthens our commitment to providing innovative solutions to help customers meet their business challenges and to lead the development of the technology and industry ecosystem. Together with Vodafone, we will build a better connected world.”

Andreas Thiel, executive director, Cellular Products at u-blox, said: “This collaboration demonstrates that u-blox is a key player in the IoT market, in terms of technical expertise and thought leadership. Along with our partners, we are driving innovation in NB-IoT technology to serve the industry as a whole, and are fully supportive of technology based on global standards.”

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