& cplSiteName &

NB-IoT Gets Insecurity Complex

Iain Morris
6/6/2017
0%
100%

When it comes to providing connectivity for the billions of devices that will make up the future "Internet of Things," security is deemed an essential requirement. But the purveyors of NB-IoT seem far from secure about the outlook for the much-ballyhooed connectivity technology.

Concealed by an outward display of braggadocio, their worry is that NB-IoT will miss out on a lot of business and end up with a smaller share of the market than expected. Last year, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), one of the technology's chief backers, argued that NB-IoT would "crush" its technology rivals when it emerged this year. Yet the alternatives continue to attract supporters amid reports that NB-IoT has missed rollout targets, remains far too expensive for customers and is beset by interoperability problems. (See Vodafone to 'Crush' LoRa, Sigfox With NB-IoT, Vodafone to Miss NB-IoT Launch Targets NB-IoT? Not at Those Prices, Say DT Customers and Ericsson, Huawei Incompatibility Threatens NB-IoT – Sources.)

The industry's reactions to those reports are what betray the insecurity. Talk of interoperability problems between equipment vendors Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is now rife at industry events. Numerous industry experts have also flagged the issue in discussions with Light Reading. Yet Ericsson and Huawei have pleaded ignorance, while operators have either denied there are problems or declined to comment.

The timing of one recent statement on interoperability also looks odd. Vodafone this week said it was carrying out NB-IoT interoperability tests more than two months after it was supposed to have launched commercial services in some European markets, and having never previously acknowledged that interoperability is a concern. Those tests have shown that all is tickety-boo, it insists.

Even if interoperability is not a serious issue, perceptions to the contrary could prove damaging. But trying to explain how those views have taken shape might necessitate some embarrassing disclosures about NB-IoT's history. Instead, the people behind the technology have largely clammed up. "I can't get anybody to talk to me about it," says Syed Hosain, the founder and chief technology officer of IoT operator Aeris Communications Inc.


Want to know more about the Internet of Things? Check out our dedicated IoT content channel here on Light Reading.


What seems undeniable is that NB-IoT was a rushed job following an abrupt rethink by the cellular industry on the need for a so-called low-power, wide-area (or LPWA) technology. Two and a half years ago, cellular industry folk at the GSM Association (GSMA) were "dismissive" of LPWA, according to Tom Rebbeck, a director at the Analysys Mason market research business. "Then within a year they had turned around because they saw the momentum behind Sigfox and LoRa," he says.

Indeed, in the absence of a suitable cellular technology, several Tier 1 operators have made commitments to the technologies that Rebbeck cites. Based on unlicensed spectrum, both Sigfox and LoRa have put the cellular industry under considerable pressure to bring NB-IoT to market as quickly as possible. "That there are interoperability problems is not surprising," says Bengt Nordström, the CEO of the Northstream market research and consulting group. (See SK Telecom Sees LTE-M, LoRa as Its 'Two Main IoT Pillars', Orange Hails LoRa Breakthrough as Bouygues Ups IoT Game and Sigfox 'Only Option' Today, Says Telefónica.)

Whether or not the rush to standardize NB-IoT did lead to problems, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications body made "corrections" to the standard as recently as March, according to Ericsson. The Swedish vendor recently shared this information when speculating why there might have been talk about NB-IoT interoperability problems, saying the ecosystem would have to catch up with the 3GPP's changes. It initially described the corrections as "atypical," but subsequently said this label was "probably incorrect," in a further sign of insecurity. The 3GPP, meanwhile, did not respond to Light Reading's requests for comment on the matter.

Next page: Slowly does it

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
iotman
100%
0%
iotman,
User Rank: Moderator
6/7/2017 | 6:28:03 PM
This guy is a classic!
Here we go everybody.......buckle in for yet another anti NB-IOT article from our acclaimed author. He should really disclose where he gets his (mis)information. Yes, Vodafone have done commercial launches (in regions where interoperability probably wasn't the major concern...ie RAN/core all from a single provider). The change to the new interoperable versions of both network and chipsets is a SIMPLE SOFTWARE upgrade)... so once the IODT in completed (imminent) then the system is complete as originally planned.

Yes it's taken longer than everyone would have liked, but the proprietary players have only scratched the surface in terms of roll outs. Any enterprise worth their salt is willing to wait an extra 6 months to get a much better solution for the 10+ year of their IoT assets. If you just want to track the odd dog or bike, then jump on board now with the low-end, low-cost providers. If you want true global standards and a reliable and robust technology, its about to be on your doorstep.

As NB-IOT starts hitting the millions in world-wide rollout numbers in the next 12 months, I'm sure this author will pen his next article titled "But NB-IOT said it would reach billions of devices and its only reached millions so far....what a failure". Rag
CEO/Co-f00573
50%
50%
CEO/Co-f00573,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/6/2017 | 1:47:28 PM
Hello marketing? It's procurement. We've got some good news and some bad news.
"A likelier explanation is that customers are not ready for NB-IoT prices. Modules still cost somewhere between €10 ($11.25) and €15 ($16.87), according to Deutsche Telekom, against an industry target of just $5."

That's the bad news. The good news is ... hang on I'll call you right back.

 

 
sarcher60555
50%
50%
sarcher60555,
User Rank: Lightning
6/6/2017 | 10:44:05 AM
Re: Uh-oh
http://www.vodafone.com/content/index/what/technology-blog/nbiot-commercial-launch-spain.html
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/6/2017 | 9:51:49 AM
Uh-oh
Looks like NB-IoT is DOA for IoT
More Blogs from Morris Lore
Trump's 5G plan is an 'outdated' piece of government theorizing, say reports. But might he have stumbled onto something?
What do Brexit, Trump's hair and net neutrality have in common?
Let's hope that cloudification, network slicing and core network transformation top the agenda at MWC 2018, and not the dreary issue of 5G new radio.
Altice hopes a just-announced US spin-off will help it double down on its underperforming core European operations.
It is time the industry faced up to the upheaval that automation will create.
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 28, 2018, Kansas City Convention Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
April 9, 2018, Las Vegas Convention Center
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Federal Funds for Broadband? Unlikely
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/12/2018
Has Europe Switched to a Fiber Diet? Not Yet...
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 2/15/2018
Net Neutrality: States' Rights vs. the FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/13/2018
Will China React to Latest US Huawei, ZTE Slapdown?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 2/16/2018
IBM, Microsoft Duke It Out Over Chief Diversity Hire
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 2/15/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed