DT cautions on NB-IoT infancy ahead of launch - Mobile World Live

DT cautions on NB-IoT infancy ahead of launch

23 MAY 2017

LIVE FROM LPWA WORLD 2017, LONDON: Jens Olejak, senior product manager M2M at Deutsche Telekom (pictured), refused to rule out supporting non-cellular Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies in the future, as he cautioned on the immediate challenges facing the company’s NB-IoT rollout.

Olejak said the company could “never say never” on supporting non-standardised offerings like LoRA or Sigfox, but added such a move would be a massive pivot from its strategy so far.

“We took the decision to focus on cellular technologies because that’s our core business,” he said: “We run carrier cellular networks which is an advantage for NB-IoT and then Cat-M1, where we can reuse much of our existing infrastructure.”

He continued: “Supporting LoRa or Sigfox would be in addition to that, and that would require a lot of manpower to run. It doesn’t fit into our story for customers when we talk about licensed spectrum in terms of security and long term reliability and so on.”

A number of European mobile operators – such as KPN and Orange – seem set for a dual technology approach to LPWA, supporting both LoRa and 3GPP standardised offerings.

Uncarrier
Olejak explained the German operator began to look at LPWA technologies for IoT two years ago, after it became clear existing mobile networks were designed to support humans with one smartphone, not numerous devices.

The company is set to launch commercially in Germany and the Netherlands in Q2 this year, and then rollout to its other European markets, following trials involving Huawei in 2016.

Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile US subsidiary also recently announced plans to support NB-IoT in 2018.

While rivals including AT&T and Verizon have chosen LTE-M as their technology of choice, with the technology gaining more ground in North America compared to NB-IoT, Olejak said the move was a testament to T-Mobile US’ disruptive strategy.

“Everyone assumes that North America is completely focused on LTE-M. But T-Mobile US likes to play the uncarrier role, they like to be unusual and do things differently so they are going to start with NB-IoT and then go to LTE-M.”

Challenges
Ahead of Deutsche Telekom’s commercial launch, Olejak said the company was “excited” by the roll out, but noted challenges remain, particularly “as it’s a brand new technology that was only standardised last June”.

He noted potential barriers, which includes the need for other vendors to rapidly build up the ecosystem to support Deutsche Telekom’s roll out, as well as module availability.

Olejak also noted the infancy of the technologies meant there were still a number of business use cases that were still unknown.

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Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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