Vodafone expands its NB-IoT coverage

Vodafone launched NB-IoT commercially at the beginning of 2017 to meet demand from its customers in Spain.  Going live helped Vodafone to increase the number of suppliers supporting the technology. The NB-IoT network is now available in Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Málaga, Seville, Zaragoza and Santander with 1,000 base stations now live.

Vodafone’s customers see the opportunity to use NB-IoT for existing connected products, as well as new use cases that are emerging as users get exposure to the potential of the technology. Vodafone’s operating company teams are directly engaging with potential customers. The increasing variety of uses for NB-IoT includes sensor networks, smart city applications like smart lighting and smart bins, tracking and other new use cases, such as “HappyorNot” terminals.

The NB-IoT coverage gain versus GSM is in line with Vodafone’s target, while recent testing activities have also demonstrated excellent network performance, exceeding Vodafone’s expectations: the uplink first transmission success rate is greater than 97%, reaching 99.9% with retransmissions.

Vodafone is working with multiple chipset and module suppliers to enable testing and trial opportunities, as well as device interoperability testing. It has tested devices from Neul and Qualcomm against Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia systems in multiple regions. All of these vendors’ NB-IoT Radio Access Network technology has been successfully interconnected with Vodafone’s core Internet of Things network.

A number of other Vodafone markets are also preparing their networks and customers for NB-IoT:

  • VodafoneZiggo has a live NB-IoT network across nine cities to date.
  • Vodafone Germany is undertaking customer trials of NB-IoT including installing smart bins for the Deutsche Bahn.
  • Vodafone Ireland has built a test network, which is currently live. It is testing this on a selection of production sites and is on track for a commercial launch this year.
  • Vodacom is testing NB-IoT. It has launched the first NB-IoT site in Africa within its campus in Midrand, Johannesburg.
  • Vodafone New Zealand has successfully tested NB-IoT and will next pilot the technology with a select group of business customers in late 2017 before a network roll out in 2018.

Interview with Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone Group R&D Director