M1, Singapore’s third largest mobile operator, announced it launched a nationwide NB-IoT network, while rival Singtel said it plans to roll out a commercial IoT network compatible with both LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies by end-September.

In a statement, M1 said its NB-IoT rollout is the first commercial launch in Southeast Asia. The operator in August 2016 contracted Finnish vendor Nokia to roll out a nationwide network during H1 2017.

M1 said it and its partners developed a variety of IoT services, such as smart energy management for buildings, environmental monitoring, asset tracking and fleet management.

Karen Kooi, M1 CEO, said the launch will accelerate its journey to a digital society: “We look forward to working closely with government agencies, technology partners and customers to enable smart solutions for everything and everyone,” she said.

Keppel Electric, for example, is piloting an NB-IoT energy management meter, which is expected to enable it to deploy power and water meters to its customers’ premises faster and more cost-effectively. These meters will enable commercial, industrial and residential customers to track their energy usage.

Janice Bong, GM of Keppel Electric, said with the full liberalisation of the electricity market expected in 2018, the launch of M1’s NB-IoT network is a timely development, noting customers will have easy access to real-time consumption data at a lower cost.

Dual support
Market leader Singtel’s nationwide IoT deployment will support LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular technologies. LTE-M is a simplified industry term for LTE Cat M1 IoT technology, which is one of three cellular-based low power wide area (LPWA) IoT standards established by 3GPP in its Release 13 specification (the other two being NB-IoT and EC-GSM-IoT).

Bill Chang, CEO of Singtel’s enterprise group, said with more businesses embracing the digital future, the network will pave the way for IoT adoption as Singapore advances towards becoming a Smart Nation.

“We welcome businesses to be part of the growing IoT ecosystem by leveraging our infrastructure and network,” he said, adding it will use its cyber security experience to assist businesses in implementing secure and reliable IoT solutions.

Australian mobile operator Telstra recently activated one of the largest IoT-enabled networks in the world using LTE-M technology,