Vodafone readies mobile network for ‘Internet of Things’
Vodafone readies mobile network for ‘Internet of Things’ future
Vodafone will deploy Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) in early 2018 to prepare for an expected surge in IoT applications over the coming years.
NB-IoT is a low power, wide area network (LPWAN) that uses dedicated bandwidth and licenced spectrum to deliver secure coverage across vast geographical areas.
It is designed to support a new wave of IoT devices – such as field and waterway sensors – that transmit small amounts of data but have a long, flexible life cycle, up to 15 years in some cases.
“There are many IoT networks available now but we think NB-IoT is a premium technology choice that is worth waiting for,” said Vodafone Technology Director, Tony Baird. “It is supported by over 40 of the world’s largest mobile operators plus many more suppliers and innovators that serve the majority of the global IoT market.”
Vodafone has a strong IoT heritage with more than 1.4million connected devices operating across its 2G network in New Zealand. NB-IoT deployment is an evolution of this network, so it can support tens of millions more devices in future.
Vodafone’s NB-IoT announcement comes hot on the heels of an IoT Alliance report that estimates a $2.2 billion dollar IoT market opportunity for New Zealand industries over the next 10 years.
The report aligns with IDC predictions that New Zealand will be APAC’s third most mature market in terms of IoT units per capita by 2020 – naming the agricultural sector as a key growth driver. IDC also predicts approximately 30 billion connected things globally by 2020.
Tony adds, “IoT is approaching a tipping point and it’s starting to transform the way we live our lives and run our businesses. Vodafone is a global leader in this space and we want to help more Kiwi businesses take advantage of these exciting opportunities.”
Vodafone successfully tested NB-IoT on its network with its technology partner Nokia in September 2016. The next step is to pilot the technology with a select group of business customers in late 2017, before a network roll out in early 2018.
Transport technology services company EROAD is on board for the pilot programme. The company played a huge role in modernising road toll charging – and helped make New Zealand the first country in the world to implement a nationwide cellular-based road charging solution.
EROAD CEO, Steven Newman said, “We are really excited about the potential of NB-IoT to take our business to the next level, both here in New Zealand and overseas.
“Because NB-IoT is built to a global standard, the products we develop can be optimised so they are compatible in multiple global markets. Kiwi tech companies are integral to New Zealand’s export future, and we’re really excited about what NB-IoT will mean for ours.”
This pilot programme will see software deployed across selected cell sites, taking advantage of state-of-the art network testing facilities inside Vodafone xone.