Vodafone Australia launches commercial NB-IoT services

First stages of roll-out in Melbourne CBD and surrounding areas

Vodafone Australia today announced the next stage of deployment of its commercial Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network, making it the first Australian telco to launch commercial NB-IoT services.

NB-IoT is a low power wide area network (LPWA) technology. It is designed to wirelessly connect millions of devices that have low bandwidth requirements.

Vodafone’s NB-IoT network has been launched around Frankston on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, and at the Vodafone offices in Port Melbourne and North Sydney. The company plans to extend it across Melbourne’s CBD and suburbs during November. Vodafone will continue to expand its NB-IoT network to select areas of Sydney and Canberra during December, before rolling out to other areas of Australia next year.

Vodafone’s Executive General Manager of Enterprise, Stuart Kelly, said Vodafone’s NB-IoT technology will open up new opportunities for machine to machine connectivity that have not previously been economically sustainable.

“NB-IoT offers customers a range of benefits including greater power efficiency, with devices able to run on batteries for 10 years or more on a single charge. This means there is less need for investment in hardware and resources relating to sourcing and replacing batteries. The result is increased longevity for assets, reducing the need for site visits while devices are being used in the field.”

Based on results seen during testing in the Melbourne CBD, NB-IoT showed significantly greater coverage, in terms of distance and depth, compared to those offered by existing 2G, 3G and 4G technology, penetrating two to three double-brick walls, and enabling connectivity of objects in underground car parks and basements. Testing in suburban Melbourne also achieved extended coverage of up to 30 kilometres.

To prepare for the launch of the NB-IoT network, Vodafone upgraded about half of its network sites, as well as deploying software upgrades across its radio access network and elements of the core network.  Additionally, Vodafone has integrated its NB-IoT service to Vodafone’s Global IoT platform.

Vodafone is working with two new customers to begin trials of the NB-IoT network before the end of 2017. Metasphere is an international company that provides telemetry and control solutions that help businesses manage their networks and assets.

Vodafone is also working closely with CCP Technologies Limited – an ASX listed public company providing a critical control point management system with a focus on the food industry. CCP’s smart IoT sensors capture temperature and other data in controlled refrigeration environments as a foundation for delivering sophisticated business intelligence, alert notifications, compliance verification and reports.

“We’re very pleased to be working with Metasphere and CCP to implement trials of Vodafone’s NB-IoT network in Australia and to demonstrate the range of benefits that NB-IoT services can provide businesses,” Mr Kelly said.

Commercial Director of Metasphere Australia, Paul Hart, said this is an exciting move for Metasphere as it continues to expand its Australian presence.

“We are looking for innovative new ways to deliver reliable services to our clients,” he said. “We are thrilled to be moving forward with Vodafone in Australia to implement a trial on its local NB-IoT network.”

CEO of CCP Michael White said his company is looking to accelerate its innovation pathway.

“Adding NB-IoT to our suite of connectivity options is an exciting move for CCP,” he said. “Vodafone has already achieved fantastic results with NB-IoT and we are looking forward to working together on a trial.

Mr Kelly said Vodafone’s discussions with manufacturers of NB-IoT-compatible devices have shown there is a rapidly developing IoT ecosystem in Australia.

“Australians will see a huge variety of products, services and applications enabled by NB-IoT over the coming years as more carriers, vendors, utilities and commercial organisations roll out and harness the benefits of this new way of connecting devices. This will enable society to become smarter and more efficient, massively benefiting the general public as well as businesses,” he said.

“We expect NB-IoT to be a key driver behind Australia’s move towards becoming a smarter, more connected country.”

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