Nokia is working with EDF to explore how cellular low power, wide area technologies can connect millions of sensors and other devices across the energy giant's facilities.
EDF's R&D team will use Nokia's TestHub services at the latter's Device Testing lab in France, which will give them access to Internet of Things objects, chipsets, modules and user devices across a range of wireless technologies and frequencies.
Nokia, which is EDF's exclusive vendor partner on the project, said the test environment would allow devices to be tested on real infrastructure rather than simulated conditions. It claimed this would reduce guesswork in testing and analysis and also lower the risks ahead of a real-life commercial launch.
Both companies will compare the performance of NB-IoT and LTE-M, as well as other unlicensed technologies. However, they did not specify whether this included the likes of LoRa or Sigfox.
Stéphane Tanguy, Head of IT Systems, EDF R&D, said: "The Internet of Things offers tremendous opportunities for our group. Many use cases can be enabled by IOT technologies in various businesses from power generation to marketing.
"As the R&D engine of the EDF Group, it is our responsibility to characterise the objects, their connectivity, their integration into IoT platforms and the related end-to end cybersecurity properties.
"Among the connectivity solutions, it is essential that we understand the performance, the maturity and the adequacy of each technology for our different use cases by an objective and agnostic approach.
"The cellular IoT technologies (LTE-M and NB-IOT) are two major technologies that we have decided to test with Nokia, which provides us with a very interesting test environment and valuable expertise to carry out these evaluations."
Finland-based Nokia described the partnership as a "first of its kind" in the power utility sector.
Matthieu Bourguignon, Head of Global Enterprise and Public Sector, Europe, for Nokia, said: "The use of IoT devices in industrial networks is in its infancy, but given the expected huge numbers of devices that will be deployed in the future, it is critical that our customers can evaluate now the various technologies before making substantial investments."