Vodafone plays down NB-IoT interoperability concerns - Mobile World Live

Vodafone plays down NB-IoT interoperability concerns

05 JUN 2017

UPDATED 18:13 BST: Vodafone Group confirmed it successfully tested interoperability of NB-IoT modules from “several vendors”, amid wider concerns incompatibility between equipment from rivals Ericsson and Huawei could hinder roll out.

The operator, one of the strongest backers of the low power wide area (LPWA) technology in Europe, launched its first commercial NB-IoT network in six major cities in Spain in January.

However, it missed its NB-IoT launch deadlines in several other European markets (Update – Vodafone today said it launched NB-IoT in 20 locations in nine cities of the Netherlands. The activation follows plans to have launched in the Netherlands and Ireland earlier in the year, but both were delayed).

In a statement, the company did not provide details on future launch dates, but provided an update on some of the work it is doing to prepare its global networks for LPWA services.

The company said it was working with network partners Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia to extend the reach of NB-IoT, while also conducting interoperability development testing, as part of its multi-vendor strategy.

“We have tested devices from Neul and Qualcomm against Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia systems in multiple regions,” said Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone Group’s head of research and development and technology strategy, adding: “All of these vendors’ NB-IoT Radio Access Network technology has been successfully interconnected with Vodafone’s IoT core network.”

Compatability concerns
Vodafone’s update follows media concerns NB-IoT technology could face interoperability problems, given incompatibility between the equipment of major vendors Huawei and Ericsson.

According to reports, lack of interoperability could result in the technology playing a smaller role in the wider LPWA segment than originally envisaged, after being standardised by the 3GPP in 2016.

A lack of compatibility between the vendors’ equipment effectively means there is more than one version of NB-IoT, and indeed makes building an ecosystem difficult, said executives at a recent LPWA conference.

Vodafone said it expects more devices to be tested and approved “as vendor roadmaps mature over the coming months”.

“We’re working alongside the GSMA and with the wider industry to ensure that NB-IoT has multi-operator, seamless and predictable coverage around the world,” added Vodafone.

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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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