Mature technology, a fast growing ecosystem and business value are convincing operators and partners to invest in NB-IoT, according to Edward Fan, VP of marketing in the Carrier Business Group at Huawei (pictured).
The executive forecast the 150 million NB-IoT connections milestone would be hit this year, across more than 100 networks: “More and more companies are using IoT to cut costs, reduce risk, improve efficiency, and increase revenue,” he said.
Speaking at the vendor’s Pre-MWC Media and Analyst Briefing in London yesterday (8 February), Fan said 12 use cases have started commercial deployment at scale, meaning “the cases are ready to be replicated from city to city, and from country to country”.
These are: water metering; smart parking; smart lighting; gas metering; shared bicycles; fire detectors; livestock farming; monitoring of manhole covers, fire hydrants and post boxes; smart locks; and smart air conditioning.
“More and more cases are being converted, being incubated, from ideas to trial, from trial to commercial,” he continued.
Fan noted there are two main paths operators can take: “big connection” – selling more SIMs – and “beyond the connection” – selling more services. While the latter path is more lucrative, it also comes with more challenges, not least of which is the need to work with a number of partners to deliver solutions.
“Last year, the most frequent question I was asked by operators was not about networks, was not about chipsets. It was ‘can you introduce these partners to me, to my country, please?’ I am very glad to do it. It is very easy to get a new device working on your network, but it is difficult to connect the device with the industry application, and especially to get multiple vendor devices to work with a single application,” he said.
Huawei is also looking to extend its OpenLabs programme, stating this had “proven to be an effective way to develop the ecosystem”.
“But at the same time, 80 per cent of the 1,000 partners are from China, so this year we have decided to extended Huawei OpenLabs overseas,” Fan said. In addition to five sites in China, centres are planned for Germany, Mexico, Thailand and UAE.