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Where is NB IoT at in 2018?

NarrowBand IoT(NB IoT) is a new technology standard developed to enable efficient communication and long battery life for mass distributed devices across wide geographical footprints and deep within urban infrastructure.

The NB-IoT is currently supported by over twenty of the world’s largest mobile operators, cumulatively worth over $578 billion, who provide communications to over 2.9 billion customers and geographically serve over 90% of the IoT markets in 79 countries.

Our company uses NB IoT in access control. We have been working tirelessly with Huawei and Vodafone over the last year, to configure the NB IoT network for use in access control. The NB IoT was not originally designed for this access control use, but we've changed all that. Here are some of the things that NB IoT was originally designed for;

  • connect devices to the internet such as gas meters, water meters, smoke and fire alarms, assets for monitoring, and parking meters.

  • drive new data streams, reduce operational costs and create new business models.

  • increase signal coverage area by up to seven times, or 20 decibels (dB), compared to existing GSM technology such as 3G, and penetrate deep underground and deep throughout buildings

  • be the only licenced spectrum to guarantee quality of service and improved security -NB IoT did became the only licenced spectrum in June 2016 by 3GPP the global organisation responsible for managing the mobile phone network.

  • send small parcels of data quickly over a fully licenced spectrum (800-900MHZ)

  • get the same levels of security as 4G with the service not subjected to potential disruption like alternative technologies utilising unlicensed spectrum such as Lora and Sigfox.

Or in simple terms, ‘NB IoT is for smart devices to connect to the internet in the most secure way, which does not

rely on Broadband or Wi-Fi, or 3G’.

NB-IoT was tested in 18 countries worldwide in 2016, driving NB-IoT maturity in terms of technology, network rollout, and operation and maintenance.

By the end of 2017, NB IoT was live in 25 countries, supported by 18 telco’s, with coverage improving on a daily basis. Each of the 25 countries has hundreds to thousands of mobile tower sites switched on to support NB-IoT.

Where will NB IoT go in 2018, and how fast will it go?

NB-IoT is a software update in telco’s existing base stations. Cities can have hundreds of tower sites switched on in hours. For example in January 2017 Valencia, Spain, a city of around 1.5 million people, had NB IoT coverage for the entire city, switched on in a day.

The NB IoT network is being configured daily around the device partners applications, such as ours in access control. This configuration only needs to be done once per application. That is once for asset tracking, once for smart water metering, once for smart car parking etc. Once all the configurations for all the different applications are completed, expect NB IoT to roll out very quickly - as we said its only a software upgrade on existing mobile tower networks, and, most of the planet could be switched on in only days. So stay tuned in 2018 to see how quickly the global NB IoT roll-out will happen!

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