Japanese operator NTT Docomo announced it will shut down its NB-IoT network today (31 March), less than a year after launching the service, as it looks to prioritise resources and turn its focus to LTE-M.

In a statement, the market leader said given the current business environment it decided to stop the LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) service, which went live in April 2019, “to concentrate management resources”.

The operator said it will continue to offer low-power IoT services via LTE-M, another standardised LPWA network technology, and work to improve the service.

Marc Einstein, chief analyst at research company ITR, told Mobile World Live he thinks the move is not really a matter of resources but more of priorities, as Japan had never been bullish on NB-IoT when compared with China or Europe, and LTE-M is seen as being closer to its core mobile network.

“Docomo is just downsizing because there is no need to run both networks. It also believes 5G will eventually be able to handle massive amounts of connections once Release 17 is finalised and is probably re-allocating those resources to its overall 5G network rollout,” he explained.