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Optical/IP Networks

Vodafone Italy talks up nationwide Cat-M

Vodafone Italy paraded a nationwide rollout of Cat-M – or LTE-M if you prefer – and framed the technology as a useful complement to NB-IoT, which is also part of the cellular LPWA (low power wide area) network family.

One of the advantages of Cat-M over NB-IoT is that tracking devices can be kept connected when on the move. And by accommodating wider chunks of bandwidth, LTE-M can purportedly support greater capacity and faster speeds than its sister LPWA tech – up to 0.8Mbps – as well as offer lower latency.

Vodafone Italy flags local company Raliacom, which manufactures vehicle-tracking devices, as its first Cat-M customer.
 (Source: l_martinez/Alamy Stock Photo)
Vodafone Italy flags local company Raliacom, which manufactures vehicle-tracking devices, as its first Cat-M customer.
(Source: l_martinez/Alamy Stock Photo)

Vodafone Group CTO Johan Wibergh took to LinkedIn to extol the technical benefits of Cat-M, as well as to boast that Vodafone Italy is the first operator in the country to roll it out nationwide.

"CAT-M is ideally suited to connecting many data devices and sensors over a wide geographical area at low cost, from environmental monitoring, linking alarms with control rooms to tracking precious cargo," he said in a post. "It is also incredibly energy efficient. A connected water meter, for example, could operate for 10 years or more without its battery needing re-charging."

Vodafone Italy's announcement enthused about various use cases it thinks Cat-M can serve well. Smart cities – including healthcare, fleet management and logistics – is one. Wearables got a mention, too, as did smart homes.

The operator wheeled out Vicenza-based Raliacom as the first company to integrate Vodafone Cat-M tech into its products. Raliacom manufactures devices for the localization and remote control of vehicles and industrial plants, as well as "life-saving" wrist wearables for the elderly.

Vodafone Italy joins European counterparts in the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary, where Vodafone has launched Cat-M.

Bigger IoT fish to fry

Vodafone Group's latest annual report revealed that its IoT businesses were being prepped for a spinoff. The company contends that greater independence from the parent company "will help to accelerate the platform's growth and attractiveness to both new customers and connectivity partners."

The UK-headquartered operator, which describes itself as "the largest IoT connectivity provider globally," made only €900 million ($954 million) from its IoT business last year.

This would look impressive at a smaller company but accounted for just 2% of Vodafone's service revenues in 2021. It connects less than half as many objects as it does people, boasting 150.1 million IoT connections and 323 million mobile customers.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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