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Vodafone to light up a nationwide NB-IoT network this year

26. July 2017

Vodafone continues with its successful implementation of the NB-IoT technology and is now testing the narrow-band Internet of Things system in live operation in partnership with the company Jablotron and Landis+Gyr and Department of Telecommunications of the Brno University of Technology. The NB-IoT network already covers selected areas of the cities of Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Plzeň and České Budějovice and Vodafone expects to extend it commercially to cover the entire country in autumn 2017. The Czech Republic will thus join Spain and the Netherlands as one of the first European countries where Vodafone Group offers the communication technology for the Internet of Things (IoT) to its clients on a commercial basis.

“In order for us to offer the best possible services to our customers, modern technologies and fast implementation of specific products are of paramount importance. That is why we are so excited by the possibility to test NB-IoT in our company,” says Aleš Krutina, Chief Technology Officer of Jablotron, a leading Czech provider of security technology and smart household devices, adding: “We have successfully launched and tested the new technology in or network and the results are very promising. They met our expectations and confirmed the performance parameters.”

In the Czech Republic, the first test of NB-IoT took place in the Vodafone Lab in Praze - Stodůlky. Once a number of prototype devices were successfully connected to the NB-IoT network, the testing was taken further afield to select locations where the NB-IoT network was established for testing purposes. The technical side of the network infrastructure for the first phase of the NB-IoT pilot test was provided by Vodafone in partnership with Huawei.

Vodafone will proceed with the next wave of tests in early August, working both with the companies that participated in the initial trials and new customers. At this stage, customers will already connect to Vodafone’s global IoT platform, which will allow them to verify NB-IoT’s technological parameters in greater detail. At the same time, the NB-IoT network will be extended to cover more areas of the Czech Republic.

“We offer NB-IoT primarily to corporate clients who already use or will use Vodafone’s global IoT platform and  global SIM cards. What this means in practice is that we provide our partners with connectivity for devices that they themselves will manufacture and eventually sell in the market,” says Michal Müller, sale director for corporate clients of Vodafone Česká republika, adding: “In the future, we also want to bring to the market our own NB-IoT end-products and services. What kind of equipment it will be will depend on market developments.”

Vodafone’s global IoT platform is a comprehensive platform comprising of advanced connectivity management software integrated with the IoT core network and Vodafone’s dedicated global SIM which is not tied to a specific country. The SIM is not geographically localised and connects to the local Vodafone network or to roam onto over 500 partner networks anywhere in the world. This ensures high availability of IoT services as well as providing predictable cost for connecting IoT devices. The Vodafone IoT platform provides a high level of system performance and security in over 190 countries through the unique combination of core network, connectivity software and global SIM. The core network is dedicated to IoT so Vodafone has control of its availability, security and service levels, enabling us to offer a service that addresses mission critical IoT use cases and standards. 

NB-IoT is a specification developed by 3GPP, and standardised as part of 3GPP Release 13 in June 2016. It’s a cellular technology related to LTE, designed specifically for Low Power Wide Area applications, using licensed spectrum on a range of possible bands. It was designed to offer 20dB coverage improvement versus GSM, 12–15 years operation on a single battery charge, low device cost, and compatibility with existing cellular network infrastructure, with the same level of security as LTE. It can be deployed in a variety of frequency bands using a bandwidth of only 200 kHz as a self contained carrier. Overall, NB-IoT is supported by over 40 of the world’s largest telecoms operators.

LPWA describes a category of wireless communication technologies designed to support IoT deployments. LPWA technologies are designed to deliver: Extendedcoverage over large areas, even when devices are underground or deep within buildings, Low cost communications hardware, enabling data collection devices to be built for less than $10, Low bandwidth, with most use cases requiring just a few bytes of data to be transmitted per device per day, Great power efficiency, so devices can run on batteries for 10 years or more without a charge, Massive scale, connecting potentially millions of devices at once in a single deployment.