Vodafone Group announced plans to double the number of European cell sites supporting its NB-IoT network by the end of 2019, reflecting growing demand from enterprise customers for the technology.
The company said in a statement its NB-IoT network, which is currently live in the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Republic of Ireland, will be densified. It will also launch the network in the UK, Romania and Hungary over the period.
Beyond Europe, Vodafone said it will expand its networks in South Africa and Turkey, but did not provide any additional details.
Vodafone, one of the biggest operators using NB-IoT over other standardised low power wide area (LPWA) options such as LTE-M or non-standarised technologies including LoRa and Sigfox, hinted earlier this year at the LPWA World event in London it was planning to boost services.
At the time, the company said it was looking at rolling out the network to 90 per cent of Germany and 100 per cent in Spain, as well as a launch in the UK. It also said it would add LTE-M into its service, without revealing specific details.
Vodafone did not mention an LTE-M launch in the latest update, but did reveal it had 74 million connections across its international network, which it said can support up to 50,000 devices in a single cell.
NB-IoT and LTE-M are also expected to be components of 5G: Stefano Gastaut, CEO of Vodafone IoT, explained NB-IoT “gives business access to 5G capabilities before large scale consumer availability”.