Three UK tests NB-IoT and LTE-M ahead of nationwide rollout
Three UK has said it is piloting NB-IoT and LTE-M as a first step in a nationwide rollout of cellular-based low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology in support of wholesale customers including ARM, Arkessa, AT&T, Wireless Logic and Mobius in the UK. It said the rollout will take several years.
Its pilot network has been set up at the Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory (InTEGReL), in Gateshead, in the UK. The lab is a collaboration between Northern Gas Networks, Newcastle University, Northern Powergrid, Northumbrian Water and Siemens.
Researchers will deploy wireless devices on the experimental energy network to identify problems and gather performance data. The idea is to launch either NB-IoT or LTE-M in the UK for energy companies to improve service reliability, detect faults, and make customer billing more accurate.
Three UK will offer one or both of these LTE-based LPWA technologies, which integrated with the 5G NR roadmap, to existing partners, using its 2G, 3G and 4G network for wholesale IoT services currently. Three UK claims wholesale customers in retail, transport, logistics, infrastructure and utilities.
Existing and new customers will be able to launch new IoT services with an LPWA network facility, to take advantage of wider and deeper coverage, along with longer battery life. Three UK said it will draw on existing NB-IoT and LTE-M launches in the CK Hutchison group, including in Austria, Sweden and Hong Kong.
Darren King, head of business development at Three Wholesale said: “The low power, long battery life and excellent reach of LPWA technology has great potential to support companies in any industry where companies need continuous information from their infrastructure in order to optimise service. We expect we will be able to start offering LPWA services to a range of industries over the next few years.”
Matthew Little, Innovation, information and improvement director at Northern Gas Networks, said: “LPWA offers huge potential for the gas industry. Real-time data from our infrastructure flowing into advanced data analytics models will allow us to take fast, agile and even pre-emptive action to deliver outstanding customer value whilst maintaining the highest level of resilience, which will be more important than ever as we transition to a low carbon energy network.”
Nigel Watson, chief information officer at Northumbria Water, said: “We recognise the power of innovative technologies to enhance what we’re already doing. IoT is a key tool for us to detect and proactively respond to the impacts of climate change. We’re excited to be involved in the LPWA IoT test bed and look forward to the learnings it will provide.”