LIVE FROM HUAWEI GLOBAL ANALYST SUMMIT, SHENZHEN: Huawei claimed that NB-IoT is “not a story: it’s coming, it’s going to be reality this year”, as it looks to drive growth of the low power IoT technology in the face of rival offerings which have already been deployed.

Zhu Cheng (pictured), director of the cellular IoT product line at Huawei, suggested that by 2020 there will be three billion cellular IoT connections, driven by applications such as smart metering and smart cities.

The executive argued that rival proprietary (non-cellular) IoT technologies such as LoRa and Sigfox are likely to encounter challenges around quality of service and coverage, although they do have benefits now in terms of being first to market.

These technologies have been “very, very aggressive” in the last year, but NB-IoT has advantages in terms of standardisation, quality of service, security, battery life and coverage.

In terms of security, “the mobile network is considered as the safest, and cellular-IoT inherits the characteristics of security from this,” he said.

And while the ecosystem still needs some work, “this is temporary” – once the 3GPP standardisation progress advances, growth will not be a big issue, he asserted.

Indeed, growth of the NB-IoT ecosystem has been a major theme here, with Patrick Zhang, president of the marketing and solutions department at Huawei, stating that “we believe we can only succeed with our partners, together. We cannot succeed alone”.

While Huawei has been one of the main drivers of NB-IoT, it has also seen support from chipset vendors including Qualcomm, Intel and HiSilicon; module makers such as U-blox, Telit, Sierra and Gemalto; and network rivals Ericsson and Nokia.

Zhu highlighted the role of the NB-IoT Forum in acting as a bridge to industry for operators.

In a keynote presentation yesterday, Eric Xu, rotating CEO of Huawei, outlined its aim with NB-IoT. “We hope the telco network will be able to carry more IoT connections,” he said.