Vodafone readies mobile network for ‘Internet of Things’
Vodafone, a leader in Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology, will become the first operator to introduce a new low-cost technology dedicated to connecting devices to the Internet of Things – from water meters to fire extinguishers – that have lower demands for power and bandwidth.
The new technology, called the Cellular Internet of Things, will use Vodafone’s existing global M2M network to provide a network access layer specifically designed for low-power Internet of Things applications. Customers will benefit from a range of connectivity services all managed through the Vodafone Global M2M Platform, which gives greater visibility and control over all connected devices.
M2M is the technology that enables the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things, made up of machines and devices connected to the internet, is forecast to grow to 26 billion devices by 2023. Objects and devices requiring very low power consumption and a wide area connection are estimated to increase to 3.3 billion connections by 2023.
Vodafone New Zealand has announced its plans to deploy Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) in early 2018. The move comes in preparation for the expected surge in demand for the internet of things (IoT) connectivity in the coming years.
NB-IoT is a low power, wide area network (LPWAN) that uses dedicated bandwidth and licensed spectrum to deliver secure coverage across vast geographical areas.
The news comes days after the release of the IoT Alliance report, which estimates a $2.2 billion dollar IoT market opportunity in New Zealand over the next 10 years.
With currently 1.4 million connected devices across its 2G network in New Zealand, the introduction of NB-IoT allows Vodafone to support tens of millions more devices in the future. Local competitor Spark New Zealand announced on the same day similar intentions, meaning that both Vodafone and Spark are set to make up two of four competing low-cost networks. It joins Thinxtra and KotahiNet which have already rolled out their dedicated IoT networks.
It is designed to support a new wave of IoT devices – such as field and waterway sensors – that transmit small amounts of data but have a long, flexible lifecycle, up to 15 years in some cases.
Vodafone has a strong IoT heritage with more than 1.4million connected devices operating across its 2G network in New Zealand. NB-IoT deployment is an evolution of this network, so it can support tens of millions more devices in future.
Vodafone’s NB-IoT announcement comes hot on the heels of an IoT Alliance report that estimates a $2.2 billion dollar IoT market opportunity for New Zealand industries over the next 10 years.
Vodafone successfully tested NB-IoT on its network with its technology partner Nokia in September 2016. The next step is to pilot the technology with a select group of business customers in late 2017, before a network roll out in early 2018.
Transport technology services company EROAD is on board for the pilot programme. The company played a huge role in modernising road toll charging – and helped make New Zealand the first country in the world to implement a nationwide cellular-based road charging solution.