Network operator trade group GSMA has announced that two of its largest members have successfully completed Europe’s first NB-IoT roaming trial.
Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom are testing a low-power, wide-area (LPWA) network with the power to offer manufacturers and logistics companies coverage for millions of devices across national borders.
The successful trial combined SIMs from Deutsche Telekom with Vodafone Spain’s network, as well as global Vodafone SIMs on T-Mobile Austria’s network and commercial NB-IoT modules. The hope now is that the trials will provide a platform and guidance for other operators to make similar moves.
2018: a year of scale
GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair said, “The success of these trials is an important milestone in the development of a sustainable roaming environment for mobile IoT networks, showcasing their capabilities, as well as ensuring consistent service across geographical boundaries.
“The market has matured considerably in a very short time, and we anticipate that this will be the year that mobile IoT scales. Only licensed, managed mobile services can provide the secure, low-power connection that can meet future demand.”
For manufacturers deploying LPWA devices on a global scale, and logistics companies tracking containers across borders, a roaming NB-IoT network represents a huge step forward.
Reliable international coverage for IoT devices will allow timely decision-making and situational awareness, and enable a range of new business scenarios, from smart meters deployed in a neighbouring nation to improving the transport of chilled goods.
So far, the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative has encouraged the standardisation of LPWA technologies such as NB-IoT. To date, 29 mobile operators have launched more than fifty commercial mobile IoT networks around the world.
The roaming trials developed by Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone also included features to optimise the use of the NB-IoT network, such as a Power Saving Mode (PSM), Long Periodic Tracking Area Update (TAU), and various throughput and round-trip-time measurements.
The GSMA has already hinted at plans – based on the success of these trials – to accelerate the adoption of NB-IoT roaming around the world.
“Deutsche Telekom has successfully introduced and developed NB-IoT networks across most of its European footprint, and we are very pleased to see the ecosystem rapidly expanding,” said Ingo Hofacker, senior VP of IoT in the Deutsche Telekom Group.
“First commercial offers are available on a national basis already, but now, operators need to satisfy customer demand for international coverage and service continuity as well.”
Vodafone’s director of IoT, Stefano Gastaut, argued that continuous coverage across borders will open the door to new IoT applications. “This development shows the successful evolution of the technology and I am confident that it will lead to a raft of new applications for NB-IoT, such as the cold chain monitoring of goods across borders,” he said.
Internet of Business says
The greater cross-border mobility of business services that offer organisations the opportunity to make processes smarter, more efficient, and environmentally friendly will be one of major benefits of the IoT. These trials represent a giant leap forward towards that goal.