Ireland confirmed as one of the first Vodafone NB-IoT networks in early 2017

21 Oct 2016

4G antenna. Image: MartinMojzis/Shutterstock

Ireland has been confirmed as one of the first locations for Vodafone’s commercial NB-IoT networks when it launches in early 2017.

The rolling out of a narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) standard is viewed as crucial to the development of connected devices and IoT – not just from a consumer perspective, but an industrial one too.

Launched only recently, the industrial-grade low-power wide area network (LPWAN) layer will connect millions of everyday objects, and Vodafone appears to be leading the way in Ireland.

Supposed benefits of NB-IoT standard

Having recently completed the world’s first test of an NB-IoT connected product on a commercial network, Vodafone has now confirmed that Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain will host the first NB-IoT networks in the first three months of 2017.

Based on what we have heard about the standard so far, NB-IoT offers longer battery life, lower cost and extended coverage. It operates in licensed spectrum, meaning improved reliability for users.

The telecoms giant has said that introducing the IoT standard will not be labour intensive as it simply requires a software upgrade to its existing 4G base stations, eliminating the need to go out and physically update the stations.

This, the company said, means the rollout will deliver nationwide coverage almost immediately, and will be followed by other European markets during the rest of the year. Full coverage is expected on Vodafone’s global network by 2020.

NB-IoT will ‘define the machines age’

So far, many of the world’s largest telecom operators – including Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom and AT&T – are signed up to the standard, along with manufacturing giants like Samsung, Sony and LG.

Vodafone’s director of IoT, Ivo Rook, said: “The questions of battery life and deep in-building penetration have now been answered by NB-IoT.

“The low cost of the modules means we can expect a new wave of connected devices and soaring market demand. Vodafone’s world-leading expertise and experience in IoT will prove invaluable in shaping this exciting market.”

Last July, Vodafone’s head of IoT for northern Europe, Cyril Deschanel, spoke with on the subject.

“NB-IoT will be the enabler for the next big wave of wireless, bigger than the wave we are seeing today with cellular technology. NB-IoT will define the machines age,” he added.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic