The early engagement with developers has always been key to developing a technology and eco-system. With Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), Vodafone aims to provide them with a game-changing technology that is set to disrupt the world of connectivity.
With a new and global technology and eco-system comes huge and exciting opportunities for the IoT developer community. With the number of IoT developers set to double to 10 million between 2015 and 2020 (Vision Mobile, 2016), this is a truly exciting and critical time to develop our engagement and relationship with this increasingly influential community. At Vodafone, we are not only rolling out this new technology, but we are actively building the foundations to enable developers.
According to a study (M2M Barometer Survey, 2015) into the business needs from IoT connectivity, it was found that 55% wanted ‘Two Way Communication’, 43% wanted it to be ‘Low Cost’, 40% wanted an ‘Extended Geographic Coverage’ and 34% wanted a ‘Long battery life’.
NB-IoT is a new technology standard, designed to revitalise the future of IoT connectivity. Some of the key benefits of NB-IoT includes its ability to connect to devices in deeply penetrated and hard-to access places, which opens up a magnitude of applications in smart metering, smoke and fire alarms, smart bins and parking monitoring. But, the list of applications is endless, as developers continue to build pioneering applications in the months and years to come.
Furthermore, devices benefit from low module costs and a 10-year battery life, making it ideal for mass deployment. NB-IoT allows us to connect things that we never thought were in range.
It is expected that between 2017 and 2020, the number of connected things will grow from 8.4 billion to 20.4 billion (Gartner Report, 2017). NB-IoT is a significant catalyst in this growth as it overcomes the difficulties of connecting devices that are located in remote locations in a financially viable way. It is expected that 62% of IoT devices will connect over NB-IoT by 2024, which shows that NB-IoT will become the new standard for connecting things (Vodafone White Paper Feb 2017).
Up until now, the difficulty that we have faced with traditional GSM technologies is that they are not optimised to deliver deep penetration, low device cost and offer power saving functionalities. This limits its applicability and makes its uneconomic for mass use and deployment.
Adding to existing mobile technologies, NB-IoT provides us the opportunity to connect anything, anywhere. We need developers to expose these opportunities and benefits by driving innovation of new types of applications for NB-IoT. Through this we can grow the NB-IoT eco-system, allowing consumers, businesses and industries to reap the full benefits of this revolutionary technology.
At an early stage of this technology, Vodafone have grasped that developers are the catalyst to the growth of NB-IoT and the wider eco-system. That is why we have actively launched initiatives to springboard developers in their journey of development with NB-IoT.
One of those initiatives include the Vodafone NB-IoT Labs. Our Labs offers visitors the opportunity to engage the NB-IoT eco-system at an early stage and test their solutions with the support of IoT experts. The lab provides developers, system integrators and device, module and chip manufacturers the opportunity to test how their application will perform in a live network environment.
We are continuously growing our NB-IoT Lab footprint across the world, where we have successfully launched Labs in the UK, Germany, Spain and more recently in South Africa. In the UK for example, we have had over 150 businesses and developers visit the lab, of which over 50 of those have engaged in testing NB-IoT. LEAPIN Digital Keys Ltd is one of the businesses that has taken advantage of Vodafone’s facilities and expertise. In a new era of online accommodation marketplace, LEAPIN Digital Keys’ NB-IoT Smart Lock provides a secure and reliable end-to-end solution for digital check-in, and digital keys.
For more information on the Digital Keys’ solution, please visit:
For more information on the Vodafone NB-IoT Lab, please visit:
We are also actively engaging with developers by organising developer events. In December 2016, we ran the Vodafone Connected X Challenge in Germany, allowing developers to create and develop new applications of NB-IoT. We had over 400 ideas submitted, ranging from a ‘Ball Bearing Heat Checker’ to a ‘Connected Wildlife Tracker’.
Building on the success of the Vodafone Connected X Challenge, we are organising a NB-IoT Hackathon alongside Pycom. The first Hackathon is due to take place in the Netherlands later this year.
Gartner has positioned Vodafone as a "Leader" in its Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services, Worldwide report 2017, for the fourth consecutive year