LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS SHANGHAI: Luigi Licciardi, head of standards and technology disclosure at Telecom Italia, wants the industry to keep up momentum on the road to commercialising Narrowband (NB)-IoT, insisting that roll-out should not be delayed past 2017.
Licciardi said he has been concerned by talk at Mobile World Congress Shanghai which suggested the launch of the low power wide area (LPWA) network for IoT could be pushed to 2018, stating bluntly that the industry “needs this technology available as soon as possible”.
Speaking on a panel at the event alongside representatives from Vodafone and Chinese operators China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, Licciardi said business had to begin in 2017, a timeframe also targeted by its European rival.
“The industry has started to do proof of concept, and a range of pilots and trials, but in all honesty we need this technology available to address the important issues. I was worried when I heard 2018, because the model is not particularly complex. We need to have the compatible chipsets and devices available as soon as possible.”
Licciardi’s urgency could be explained by the fact that the NB-IoT standard is one of many LPWA technologies on the market, with competition coming from established proprietary rivals such as Ingenu, Sigfox and the LoRA Alliance. The NB-IoT standard was only officially ratified by 3GPP earlier this month.
Earlier in the week at the GTI Summit, Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone’s head of strategy and R&D, however played down competition in LPWA, as he described NB-IoT “as the real deal”.
Do more than connections
During today’s panel, all five operators opened up on how they were now ramping up their efforts to test use cases for the network in their labs, and Huang Yuhong, deputy general manager at China Mobile and vice chair of the NB-IoT Forum, said operators should look to do more than just provide connections for IoT.
“Connections is not enough,” she said. “We can also build service platforms and help development, which means we can provide more value added service. By doing more, we can also provide more integrated solutions for our customers.”