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Vodafone controls access to its 5G lab with Digital Keys

We have never had connected smart access in any of our buildings in the past, and we've always wanted to change that


"The goal of our 5G labs are to support and promote new innovative state-of-the-art products, and to provide access to all of our stakeholders, partners, technicians, staff and visitors, so it made perfect sense to go with Digital Keys NB-IoT smart access, with NB-IoT offered by Vodafone as part of the 5G standards"

Adam Armer,

IoT Manager, Vodafone


Digital Keys usage results

"Being able to easily share access to all users of the 5G lab who unlock with their smartphones is huge"

Key Integrations used with Digital Keys

NB-IoT Network - Vodafone Ziggo Netherlands

NB-IoT Module - Quectel

Device Management Platform - Huawei 

Cloud Hosting - AlibabaCloud

Unlocking an innovative lab to support the development of futuristic products and services such as autonomous vehicles, or remote brain surgery with a product that is over 2000 years seemed a little insincere for Vodafone. That's right the old metal key lock has not changed much since it was first invented by the Romans over 2000 years ago.

Vodafone have been rated as a global technological leader in operating mobile networks in 22 countries, and in the Internet of Things(IoT) industry by analysts who have done extensive research into this technology. Vodafone has over 100 million IoT connections in over 30 countries and that number is growing daily. They help connect organisations from all industries from healthcare to manufacturing, automotive to public sector. They are pioneers in Narrowband- IoT, a 5G standards communications technology, which is enabling a whole new generation of IoT devices. So it made perfect sense for Vodafone to install Digital Keys NB-IoT smart locks on their 5G lab doors in Groningen in the Netherlands.



In 2016, Vodafone, along with 9 other partner organisations including Ericsson, and the Economic Board of Groningen, launched a 5G lab in the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands. The lab was set up to jointly research and develop the practical applications of 5G technology with a focus on the sectors of logistics, healthcare, the environment, energy and agriculture.

"We have never had connected smart access in any of our buildings in the past, and we've always wanted to change that"

Ruud Van Dijk

Technical Specialist Core Network


Connected Access with Vodafone's NB-IoT network

As a global IoT leader, Vodafone’s aim has always been to support companies and organisations developing innovative, IoT end-to-end solutions, so they envisioned a lab decked out with state-of-the art equipment. Vodafone didn’t want access to the 5G lab to be the odd one out. They wanted a smart access solution that was on brand with the 5G lab, whilst at the same time could facilitate access to the variety of companies and organisations that utilize the lab on a daily basis, from stakeholders to technicians, to students on campus.  


The lab is in a building on the Zernike Campus, one of the oldest and well known campuses in the Netherlands, with metal key locks. Vodafone required a partner that could provide them with a comprehensive IoT smart access solution that enabled 24 hour access with time-limited smartphone unlocking. In addition they needed to know who was unlocking the doors at what time for security reasons, and they also needed the onsite security guards in another building on campus to be able to remotely unlock the building for visitors, and short term users after hours.



Whether it’s used for smartphone unlocking or easily sharing access to temporary users of the lab, Digital Keys has enabled Vodafone to better manage the users of their 5G labs, and improve visibility of use with live audits. The Digital Keys NB-IoT smart access platform was originally built and integrated to Vodafone's NB-IoT network in UK headquarters, so it was a seamless integration to the Dutch network.

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