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Vodafone Ireland to Launch NB-IoT in Jan 2017

Iain Morris
11/22/2016

DUBLIN -- IoT World 2016 -- Vodafone Ireland has revealed that it will launch an NB-IoT service in January as it targets opportunities in the fast-growing market for low-power, wide-area (LPWA) connectivity.

Lauren Morris, who heads up Vodafone Ireland 's IoT business, told attendees at today's IoT World 2016 event in Dublin that NB-IoT would be available for testing in the Irish market from January, with a full commercial launch to follow.

"The update today is that we expect to have NB-IoT available in the Irish market from January and that gives Irish customers the opportunity to test the latest and greatest [in technology]," she said during a morning keynote presentation.

The update comes after parent company Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) revealed that it would launch NB-IoT networks in the markets of Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain during the first three months of 2017. (See Vodafone Ups IoT Stakes With 2017 Plan for NB-IoT.)

The UK-headquartered operator has emerged as arguably the biggest cheerleader for NB-IoT, which has been designed to support gadgets requiring very low-cost data connectivity, such as smart meters and asset-tracking devices.

Included in the 3GPP's Release 13 in the summer, NB-IoT faces competition from LPWA technologies such as Sigfox and LoRa, which rely on unlicensed spectrum to support device connections and are already in commercial deployment.

In the absence of a cellular alternative, several big mobile operators appear to have turned to LoRa, which is backed by Californian chipmaker Semtech Corp. (Nasdaq: SMTC), while France's Sigfox last week claimed to serve more than 10 million connections. (See Sigfox Defies Critics to Raise €150M in Funding.)

While some telcos see a role for both 3GPP and unlicensed-spectrum technologies, Vodafone has been scathing in its assessment of both Sigfox and LoRa.

Earlier this year, Matt Beal, a senior executive at Vodafone, told Light Reading that NB-IoT would "crush" Sigfox and LoRa when it finally appeared. (See Vodafone to 'Crush' LoRa, Sigfox With NB-IoT.)

The operator reckons it can deploy NB-IoT at a rapid pace because around 80% of its basestations will need only a software upgrade to support the new technology.

"We consider NB-IoT to be the best LPWA technology that is out there and a number of credible vendors would agree with that, including Huawei, Intel and Ericsson," said Morris at today's event.

Morris went on to say that NB-IoT is already live in a number of Spanish cities and that trials carried out with Agua de Valencia, a water company, have shown the technology can provide connectivity over long distances and when components have been installed underground.


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


Vodafone Group says its existing IoT business is now adding about 1 million connections every month and that revenues are growing by about 29% every year.

According to a recent Vodafone survey of 1,100 business leaders and experts, 76% of companies examining IoT now consider it to be of critical importance to the business. Of those that have adopted IoT in some form, 63% said they were seeing a return on investment, up from 59% last year.

Morris also told attendees that 89% of companies have increased the amount they are spending on IoT since last year. "That evidence could help other companies to seek further funding internally," she said.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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