Ericsson carrier partnerships highlight NB-IoT momentum
NB-IoT deployments in Saudi Arabia, Greece focus on enterprise and industrial use cases
Narrowband-internet of things (NB-IoT) connectivity is one of the 3GPP standards for massive IoT support. While the IoT has a number of standard and non-standard access options, NB-IoT is seeing global momentum given its ability to support important use cases like smart metering and asset monitoring that make efficient use of its peak downlink and uplink rate of 250 Kbps using a channel width of less than 200 kilohertz.
Ericsson recently finished deployment of NB-IoT clusters for Greek operator COSMOTE; the two companies also worked with Fuelics and Democritus University of Thrace to test fuel tank capacity monitoring. In addition to this industrial use case, Head of Ericsson Greece George Pappas called out transportation and healthcare as industry poised to benefit from IoT, which he said will “open up vast opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship…resulting in new services that will significantly improve quality of life.”
Massive IoT is one of three primary use cases for 5G; the other two are enhanced mobile broadband and mission critical communications. As such future 5G networks will be able to automatically create network slices in support of NB-IoT or even enterprise- or industrial-specific NB-IoT deployments. The COSMOTE deployment includes Ericsson’s Packet Core IoT slice expansion, Massive IoT RAN and IoT functionality verification.
In Saudi Arabia, Ericsson won a contract from Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to deploy NB-IoT as part of a larger LTE network upgrade, which includes deployment in the 700 MHz band. Ericsson works with STC on a variety of managed services. Target NB-IoT use cases include smart metering, parking sensors and connected cars.
STC Group CEO Nasser Al Nasser said the carrier’s network investments align with the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative, which, at a high-level, is geared toward leveraging the country’s natural resources to turn the kingdom into a “global investment powerhouse,” according to Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. “At STC, our mail goal is to ensure that the country’s Saudi Vision 2030 ambitions are met,” Al Nasser said. “We do that by always making sure we offer our subscribers the latest innovative technologies. LTE Advanced and NB-IoT are exactly what we need to pave the way to 5G.”
The 700 MHz activation is part of a larger project with Ericsson, kicked-off last year, that sets the stage for 5G while bolstering LTE coverage my incorporating the new frequency with STC’s 1800 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2100 MHz holdings.