Vodafone sets narrowband IoT rollout date for 2020

mobile phone

Vodafone plans to level up its Internet of Things (IoT) network after rolling out Narrowband IoT (Nb-IoT) and satellite coverage for its users.

The international mobile provider entered a partnership with satellite broadband provider Inmarsat, to make satellite roaming available to its customers.

Vodafone director of IoT, Ivo Rook, said: “By adding satellite connectivity from Inmarsat to the Vodafone portfolio we continue to deliver on our strategy to lead in managed IoT services."

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, added: “The growth in mission critical IoT applications, is driving demand for connectivity with unprecedented reach, range and reliability on a global basis. This agreement marks a first for Inmarsat; enabling a mobile operator to utilise broadband roaming services on our global network.”

In addition to this, Vodafone opened an Nb-IoT lab in Newbury, in collaboration with Huawei. So far, trials of this new technology, a low power network aimed at devices like smart meters, have been held in Spain, and will now be rolled out officially from the beginning of 2017 in Spain, Germany, Ireland, and The Netherlands.

Vodafone aims to expand its Nb-IoT network worldwide by 2020, by updating its 4G stations.

Tom Rebbeck, research director at Analysys Mason, said: "By committing to this date, Vodafone has sent a strong message to its competitors, but also makes a strong commitment to other players in the value chain, from chipset designers to application developers. This announcement will encourage others to invest in NB-IoT, which will help all parts of the ecosystem."

Without standardisation, Vodafone had said, supporting IoT would become too expensive for cellular technology, advantaging Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Satellite powered IoT should increase the reach of Vodafone’s network, which would become available even in unfavourable locations or weather conditions.