Vodafone to trial NB-IoT this year to prep 2017 commercial launch
Vodafone upgrading core, radio networks for NB-IoT services
U.K. telecom group Vodafone plans to focus on narrowband-“internet of things” trials during the rest of the year ahead of plans for a commercial launch of the technology next year, said Vodafone research and development director Luke Ibbetson in a company blog. The executive said the telco has already started the process of upgrading the core and radio network to launch NB-IoT services across Vodafone markets beginning in 2017.
“Working with our partners and enterprise customers, we’ve been rigorously testing NB-IoT technology for well over a year. In Turkey and Spain we are using pre-standard NB-IoT to connect sensors in a car park that tell drivers using a smartphone application exactly where to find a parking space,” Ibbetson said, adding Vodafone also conducted a trial on Vodafone Spain’s commercial network to connect water meters located in hard-to-reach locations.
The company said it will continue to test the technology, conduct new trials and expand existing ones over the coming months. Vodafone confirmed it aims to conduct a broader field trial later this year with the Spanish water company Aguas de Valencia.
“We’ve already started the process of upgrading our core and radio network and we expect to launch services across Vodafone markets during 2017. While there is still work to do, we believe it could be one of the fastest roll outs of new technology that we’ve ever completed,” Ibbetson said.
A large proportion of Vodafone’s network hardware only requires a software upgrade to support NB-IoT technology, which means the deployment of widespread NB-IoT can be completed in a short period of time.
“We estimate that 85% of our base stations will be able to support NB-IoT with a straight-forward software upgrade, however, in some markets such as the Netherlands, the figure rises to 95%,” Ibbetson said.
Tele2 secures loan to finance expansion of LTE networks in Sweden and the Netherlands.
In other EMEA news, Swedish telecommunications firm Tele2 signed a 130 million euro ($148 million) loan agreement with the Nordic Investment Bank for the expansion of the company’s LTE mobile network through 2018. The telco said the loan will finance investments to expand LTE networks in Sweden and the Netherlands.
Tele2 currently has nearly 16 million customers in nine countries. The telco offers mobile services, fixed broadband and telephony, data network services, content services, and global machine-to-machine and “internet of things” solutions.