Since the rapid completion of the standards for Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) by 3GPP, we’ve been working alongside partners to prepare our networks around the world to support Low Power, Wide Area services for IoT.

In February this year we deployed the world’s first commercial NB-IoT service, based on fully integrated 3GPP standards, via a remote software upgrade of over 1,000 existing 4G base stations in six major cities in Spain.

Since then, we’ve worked extensively with our network partners Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and Affirmed Networks to extend the reach of NB-IoT to Vodafone networks globally, as well as some of our partners’ networks around the world.

We’ve also been testing the interoperability of NB-IoT modules from several vendors on our networks, a process that we call Interoperability Development Testing (IODT).

Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone Group’s Head of Research & Development and Technology Strategy, said: “As a company committed to a multi-vendor strategy, we understand the importance of a healthy device and network ecosystem in delivering the best service to customers at a competitive price. We have tested devices from Neul and Qualcomm against Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia systems in multiple regions. All of these vendors’ NB-IoT Radio Access Network (RAN) technology has been successfully interconnected with Vodafone’s IoT core network.”

Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line at Huawei said: “Since completing the initial roll-out of the first fully standardised commercial NB-IoT network in Spain, Huawei has been working closely with Vodafone and its network partners to verify the interconnection capability between Huawei’s NB-IoT RAN, Vodafone’s strategic IoT core network and all currently available commercial NB-IoT modules. We are pleased to say that all systems have passed successfully through the interconnect test programme and we look forward to expanding the scale of our NB-IoT roll-out with Vodafone.”

Eric Parsons, Head of Product Line 4G RAN and RAN Mobile Broadband at Ericsson, said: "Ericsson and Vodafone are working closely to deliver NB-IoT coverage to Vodafone’s commercial networks. This also involves successful interconnectivity testing of our system with commercial NB-IoT chipsets and multiple device vendors. NB-IoT is a key technology enabling smart cities and other massive IoT applications.”

As vendor roadmaps mature over the coming months, we expect more devices to be tested and approved. At the same time, we’re working alongside the GSMA and with the wider industry to ensure that NB-IoT has multi-operator, seamless and predictable coverage around the world.

We’re aiming to make NB-IoT the best technology for those applications and devices that will benefit from the kind of interconnect and roaming capabilities that the mobile industry has provided since its inception.

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