Vodafone updated on the launch of NB-IoT deployments across its global footprint, following the first activation in Spain at the beginning of this year.

A blog post from the GSMA, based on an interview with Vodafone Group’s R&D director Luke Ibbetson, noted the Spain network is now available in Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Malaga, Santander, Seville, Valencia and Zaragoza, with 1,000 base stations live.

The operator claims the network – based on a low power wide area (LPWA) technology using dedicated bandwidth and licensed spectrum – is exceeding expectations in terms of network performance, with an uplink first transmission success rate greater than 97 per cent, reaching 99.9 per cent with retransmissions.

Use cases for the technology include sensor networks, smart city applications including lighting and refuse services, tracking and “other new use cases”, such as customer service feedback terminals.

Media reports earlier this year suggested Vodafone had missed its NB-IoT launch deadlines in several other European markets. But today the operator says it has NB-IoT networks live in nine cities in the Netherlands and is on track for a commercial launch in the Republic of Ireland this year (where it currently operates a test network).

Vodafone New Zealand, as previously reported, will pilot the technology “with a select group of business customers in late 2017 before a network rollout in 2018,” while Vodafone Germany is undertaking customer trials including installing smart bins for the Deutsche Bahn.

Its majority-owned operation Vodacom is testing NB-IoT and launched the first site in Africa within its campus in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Vodafone is one of the strongest supporters of NB-IoT technology in Europe (along with Deutsche Telekom), as the LPWA tech ramps up commercial deployment after being standardised by the 3GPP in 2016. Another cellular-backed LPWA technology, LTE-M, is registering growth in the US via AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.

Both NB-IoT and LTE-M are playing catchup with unlicensed LPWA offerings already established in the market, including Sigfox and LoRa.