Engineers from Vodafone and Huawei claim to have completed the first over-the-air connection on a live network using standardized Narrow-Band IoT (NB-IoT) in Madrid, Spain.
The companies say the connection was successfully completed on Monday 19th September using a live 4G base station that supports NB-IoT technology. It was made using the 800 MHz licenced spectrum frequency band.
Vodafone and Huawei say the test is the last important milestone before the commercial launch of NB-IoT in 2017.
Narrow-Band IoT is an industrial grade Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network layer that has been standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), and specifically designed for the Internet of Things (IoT).
The hope is that it will connect billions of everyday objects in difficult to reach locations “at extremely low cost with minimal power requirements to mobile networks,” according to Matt Beal, group director of technology architecture & strategy, Vodafone.
NB-IoT gets support from mobile operators
To do this, NB-IoT will be 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.
Reflecting on the announcement, Edward Deng, president of wireless network product line at Huawei, said: “With our decade-long strategic partnership with Vodafone…we have successfully achieved standardisation of NB-IoT and established the world’s first Open Lab to contribute to the development and promotion of its ecosystem.
Huawei and Vodafone will continue to work towards the commercialisation of NB-IoT.
Despite talk of the competition between NB-IoT, LoRA and SIGFOX in the Low-Power Wide Area (LPWA) network space, the people behind these projects surprisingly stress that whichever standard ‘wins’ is not altogether that important.
At a Digital Catapult meet-up in London earlier this month, LoRa Alliance’s Tracey Hopkins (also of Everynet), Huawei’s Gary Trotman and a representative of Arqiva (which has implemented the SIGFOX network in the UK), were keen to point out that they were more interested in growing the LPWA ecosystem and driving IoT deployments – rather than pushing their solution as the best choice.