Vodafone's NB-IoT lab to lower the cost of IoT

Vodafone and Huawei are opening the world's first NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) lab in the UK, and they're saying it's important as it will significantly lower the cost of connected devices.

Lowering the cost of IoT devices will open the doors to markets where nothing is connected today because, 'frankly, it's too expensive', as Erik Brenneis, Group Director, Internet of Things, Vodafone says.

Announcing the lab in a blog post, Brenneis says their 2G network already hosts a bunch of IoT devices requiring low-level data transfers, including smart meters. But, there are many devices in need of a simpler, lower cost network technology.

“That is where Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks will fit in to provide functions from sensor monitoring to asset tracking, connect millions of products. NB-IoT is expected to be the leading LPWA technology because it has strong industry support,” he wrote.

“In future, manufacturers will be able to create connected devices that wholesale for just a few dollars by using NB-IoT. That is really significant. Smoke detectors, for example, retail for $5 today. They cannot sell for $20 just because they are connected.”

Vodafone is expected to start rolling out NB-IoT devices next year, and the first lab is open in Newbury, UK. Other labs, in other locations around the globe, are expected to open soon.

“They will provide developers with software development kits, live test networks, and an end-to-end connectivity model, including service support and device management, accessible through Vodafone’s Application Programming Interfaces (APIs),” he concluded.

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