Orange Business Services said it “accelerated” its LTE-M strategy, revealing progress in Spain, Belgium and France ahead of planned service launches in 2018.

In a statement, Orange revealed tests with strategic customers and device manufacturers in Spain are underway covering sectors and services including utilities, smart cities and facilities management.

The operator is also planning internal trials in France covering technical and usage aspects in Q4 2017, while preparing the opening of an LTE IoT City in Antwerp, Belgium, which will be used for customer pilots.

Orange further reinforced its commitment to backing connected object and module makers, as part of its IoT push. The company said it welcomes manufacturers to its Open IoT Lab, an innovation site where it provides “technical resources and expert support”.

The operator said it is testing three types of connected objects and modules in customer pilots, in a bid to assess the performance of its LTE-M network.

Dual LPWA strategy
Mobile World Live revealed at the end of 2016 Orange was trialling LTE-M, which is one of the three cellular low power wide area (LPWA) technologies along with NB-IoT and EC-GSM to have been standardised by 3GPP.

Orange’s LTE-M tests form part of a dual-LPWA strategy, after it also pledged to use non-cellular LPWA technology LoRA at the beginning of 2015.

Unlike European rivals including Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone Group, which are deploying NB-IoT, Orange followed in the footsteps of US operators AT&T and Verizon in using LTE-M.