Wireless network operator T-Mobile US has announced the completion of what it is claiming is North America’s first live network tests of Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology.
T-Mobile, the US’s third largest carrier after Verizon and AT&T, ran the tests across multiple sites in Las Vegas, in conjunction with equipment manufacturers Qualcomm and Ericsson. It also unveiled a partnership with the city’s municipal government to deploy smart city services.
“Narrowband IoT is no longer a thing of the distant future – T-Mobile is lighting it up this year,” said T-Mobile chief technology officer Neville Ray. “By investing in Narrowband IoT now, we’re ensuring our customers will be able to bring their products to market faster with better performance, vastly improved battery life and big cost savings – all on a dedicated highway that’s purpose-built for connected devices.”
NB-IoT versus LTE-M
T-Mobile’s adoption of NB-IoT stands in direct contrast to the IoT strategies of rivals Verizon and AT&T, which have both thrown their weight behind LTE-M, another connectivity technology that, like NB-IoT runs on licensed spectrum. NB-IoT has typically been the more popular choice of low-power, wide area network (LPWAN) for operators in Europe and Asia, rather than the US.
AT&T, for example, recently launched its LTE-M IoT network in the US and is planning to extend it to Mexico by the end of the year. But it was beaten to the punch by some months by Verizon, which launched the first nationwide commercial LTE-M network in late March. Both companies are expected to look at NB-IoT next, however, possibly with a focus on very light-touch sensors requiring longer battery life.
Viva smart Vegas
T-Mobile also announced that it is working with the City of Las Vegas on several projects in the city’s Innovation District, an area just off the Las Vegas strip dedicated to testing and developing emerging technologies.
These include fitting sensors to flood and storm drainage, in order to provide early warnings of flood situations and fault detection; smart city LED-based lighting; and sensors placed on streetlights to measure temperature, humidity and pollution for environmental monitoring purposes.
“The Las Vegas Innovation District was created to bring the most exciting emerging technologies right to our doorstep,” said Michael Sherwood, director of technology and innovation at the City of Las Vegas. “We are excited about partnering with T-Mobile to bring these technologies to the core of our city in a way that will benefit residents and tourists.”