Belgium’s largest mobile operator Proximus beefed up its low power wide area (LPWA) offering with the launch of NB-IoT to support digital meter connectivity, adding to its existing LoRaWan platform.
In a statement, the company said NB-IoT would be used to support the connection of 1.3 million digital meters, rolled out by gas and electricity power companies Eandis and Infrax by the end of 2022.
Proximus said other applications were also possible in the future.
The operator highlighted that the launch of NB-IoT on its network would supplement its mobile network, as well as its non-standardised LoRaWan network which it rolled out in 2015.
LoraWan, said the operator, was suitable for small data packets, “with the advantage that it works with sensors with a very long battery life”.
By also supporting NB-IoT, a 3GPP standardised LPWA technology along with LTE-M and EC-GSM-IoT, Proximus said it can access “greater bandwidth” compared to LoRaWan, which is necessary for certain applications.
“Energy consumption (on NB-IoT), too, is very low, which means that batteries can last for several years,” said the company.
For digital electricity meters, Proximus added that NB-IoT, with high bandwidth capability, was the right technology to pass on detailed user data to the distributed system operator.
It said the customer can choose which data is shared and used, and the process was aligned with new European privacy laws.
Committed to LoRa
Proximus was clearly keen to outline its continued commitment to LoRaWan, despite activating NB-IoT.
It said the cellular rival would be used in applications which require “longer battery life or mobility”, adding that the technology had been met with increasing success.
LoRaWan is supported by the LoRa Alliance, a lobbying group which promotes the technology. Mobile operators including Orange, Bouygues, KPN and Swisscom also participate.
For standardised LPWA technology, NB-IoT has proved popular in Europe, with large operators Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom deploying the technology, while LTE-M has become the technology of choice in the US with market leaders Verizon and AT&T completing nationwide launches last year.