LG Uplus is one of the first mobile operators to publicly get behind the proposed new Narrow Band-LTE (NB-LTE) specification as part of a five-year 5G and IoT development deal announced with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) Monday.
The South Korean operator -- formerly known as LG Telecom -- has signed a development deal until 2020 with Ericsson. The agreement covers four major areas: IoT infrastructure (including narrow-band LTE); SDN and NFV, making the core network 5G ready; global content delivery networks (CDNs); and IoT-Advanced technologies.
NB-LTE is an attempt to create a very low-power 4G specification that can support devices -- such as smart sensors -- which need to run on a single battery for years, not months or days.
It is one of the specifications that has fed into the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 's work on developing a unified, single spec for narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), with final details for that spec expected to be published in December. (See 3GPP Makes Progress on Crucial LTE IoT Spec and Ericsson, Intel, Nokia Back New Narrowband LTE IoT Spec .)
Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), it should be noted, has supported the Narrow Band Cellular IoT radio proposal, backed by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Elements of this are set to be combined with the NB-LTE specification in the 3GPP's unified spec.
Even though there are some heavyweight vendors -- including Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) -- backing NB-LTE now, it is just one of many specifications in an ever-more crowded field of emerging IoT networking.
These typically get bunched under the Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) banner: They include the offerings from the LoRa Alliance and Sigfox , as well as technologies like Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) and Weightless-N. (See LPWAN: Choice Overload and Confusion.)
It is not clear how many of these offerings will be around for the long haul. Part of the pitch for NB-LTE is that it can re-use much of the existing LTE technology, but the first chips that use the technology are not expected until sometime in 2016.
Startups like Sigfox, meanwhile, are already signing deals -- albeit mostly small ones -- for their LPWAN technology. (See Luxembourg to Deploy Sigfox IoT Network and Eurobites: Sigfox Hooks Up to Eutelsat for IoT.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading