China Telecom asserted it was the first operator in the world to break 100 million connections on its NB-IoT network, with meters apparently a leading light.

It stated gas and water meter connections account for 30 million of its total NB-IoT connections, claiming this is also a global record. It also offers service for a wide range of consumer and enterprise applications, and expanded availability into fields including Covid-19 (coronavirus) prevention, smart cities and agriculture.

China Telecom attributed chips developed to improve reliability and lower costs as a driver of connections.

It launched nationwide NB-IoT coverage in 2017 and has since deployed 400,000 base stations, giving it nearly 98 per cent coverage across China.

Rival China Mobile closed 2020 with 873 million IoT connections, but didn’t disclose NB numbers, which it previously tipped to hit 70 million by the year-end.

Huawei estimates global NB-IoT connections hit 100 million in January 2020.

China Telecom’s announcement follows a shift by a some operators away from the low power wide area (LWPA) network technology, including NTT Docomo and Dish Network.