Huawei and Vodafone break down barriers with new NB-IoT Lab

Huawei and Vodafone have joined forces to announce the opening of a new innovation lab - located in Newbury in the UK - designed to help companies of all sizes design and develop IoT products.

The two companies have created the "world's first NB-IoT Open Lab," which stands for Narrow Band Internet of Things. NB-IoT extends the Internet of Things by making connections more efficient for devices in hard to reach positions or that require a long battery life and the lab will provide developers with a dedicated and stable environment to develop and test their connected devices, with room for six partners to work at any one time.

The Lab has three prime areas of focus: Smart utilities, smart cities and smart tracking/wearables, chosen because they have the most obvious use cases and a high potential for scalability.

At the lab's opening on Monday we were shown examples of several potential use cases, ranging from agricultural sensors to wearable trackers for pets. One of the most touted applications was a parking sensor which registers whenever a vehicle is parked in the space it occupies, ideal in large towns and cities to manage parking and ease congestion.

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But the key message that executives from Huawei and Vodafone referred to several times was the idea of breaking down barriers so that anyone - from the smallest start-up to the biggest enterprise - has the same access to the facility and the same opportunity to get their devices off the ground.

The lab has the potential to tap into a vast amount of IoT innovation, with new applications and use cases springing up all the time. As Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone's head of research and development said, "we see no limit in terms of the number of use cases" and making the lab open to all positions Huawei and Vodafone at the forefront of this dynamic industry.

He went on to say: “As one of the founding members of the GSMA NB-IoT forum, we’re delighted that the first lab is up and running. Over the past twelve months we’ve made significant progress establishing industry standards for the technology and the new labs will be critical to the next phase of development, which is to build a vibrant NB-IoT ecosystem.”

Matt Beal, Director of Innovation and Architecture at Vodafone, said that the lab was "about building a truly connected world" and NB-IoT could be set to lead the charge.