Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain are first for Vodafone NB-IoT

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Vodafone will launch its first live commercial narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) networks during the first three months of 2017 in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, the UK-based operator has confirmed.

Vodafone had originally planned to debut the technology in Australia and Turkey as well, but these countries have been swapped out as launch markets for the technology. Germany and Spain have taken their place; the other two are consistent with Vodafone’s early forecast.

“Over the summer there were slight changes in different markets and when we came to wanting to make the launch market official announcement we arrived at the four listed,” remarked a spokesperson.

Vodafone completed the first over-the-air connection on a live network using standardised NB-IoT in Madrid, Spain, last month, in collaboration with Huawei, which has helped Vodafone engineer the technology from inception.

Vodafone predicts a rapid rollout of the new technology, recently standardised for low-power, wide-area (LPWA) networks, which will establish a new backbone for ‘internet of things’ (IoT) connectivity.

Vodafone calculates the technology will be enabled across 85 percent of its infrastructure just by flashing in new software. “Even though we’re rolling out something a fundamentally new service, we can do it in a way that is quite tractable, and makes use of a significant part of our paid-for assets. Other operators will be in a similar position. It is a very compelling and hard-to-resist option,” Luke Ibbetson, Director of Research and Development at Vodafone, told Mobile Europe earlier this month.

Australia and Turkey, where Vodafone has been testing NB-IoT already, are likely to follow on the heels of its launch markets.

Vodafone said further rollout, facilitated by a software upgrade to its existing 4G base stations, will take place across its footprint in 2017, with its international network fully upgraded by 2020.

Ivo Rook, Director of Internet of Things at Vodafone, 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.”