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GSMA celebrates NB-IoT rollouts at MWC Shanghai

Steve Rogerson
June 29, 2017

At this week’s Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the GSMA announced that its Mobile IoT Initiative has taken off with the launch of multiple commercial rollouts of LPWAN by several of the world’s leading mobile operators including AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom (DT), Verizon and Vodafone.
China Mobile and China Unicom have launched NB-IoT across several key cities with China Telecom launching NB-IoT networks across the country. Vodafone has also launched NB-IoT in Spain and the Netherlands. DT has launched in several cities in Germany and nationwide in the Netherlands. AT&T and Verizon have previously announced nationwide launches of LTE-M technology.
In addition to these deployments, the GSMA also announced that its Mobile IoT Innovators programme, which is designed to encourage the development of new LPWA services, has reached more than 500 members, underscoring the growth of the wider IoT ecosystem.
“The Mobile IoT initiative encouraged the market to adopt licensed LPWA networks and we are now seeing this work come to fruition with multiple commercial deployments around the world, as well as the availability of hundreds of different applications,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer for the GSMA. “It is clear that the market sees the benefit of adopting solutions that offer flexibility, security, lower costs and cover all use cases, and we look forward to seeing other operators follow in the near future.”
Mobile operators are enhancing their licensed cellular networks with NB-IoT and LTE-M technologies, which use globally agreed 3GPP standards to scale the IoT. These new mobile IoT networks are designed to support mass-market IoT applications such as smart meters, environmental sensors and consumer electronics, that are low cost, use low data rates, require long battery lives and often operate in remote locations. Both technologies will be further evolved in 3GPP’s release 15.
According to analyst house Gartner, China is set to be one of the leading LPWA markets, accounting for 486 million of the estimated 3.1 billion connections globally by 2025. It is also at the forefront in the global development of mobile IoT in terms of both network launches and a record number of ecosystem developer partners.
China Mobile has launched NB-IoT networks in several key cities including Yingtan and China Unicom has rolled-out NB-IoT networks in Shanghai, as well as the main urban areas in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Fuzhou, for a number of applications across smart parking, smart fire sensors and smart meters. China Telecom has announced the rollout of nationwide NB-IoT networks.
China is also leading in the development of innovative ideas based on mobile IoT technology as a part of the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Innovator community. Of the 546 global companies developing services based on mobile IoT technology, more than 215 are from China. Applications include smart parking, pet tracking, asset tracking and smart agriculture.
At the GSMA Innovation City, located in the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) in Hall W3 at MWC Shanghai, the GSMA is demonstrating how mobile IoT technologies are supporting the mobile industry’s leadership role in achieving the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
China Telecom is demonstrating how its environmental monitoring service is helping to keep air quality high and water supplies pure with big data analysis as well as emergency response services. The GSMA is also showing how mobile IoT networks are helping the St Andrew’s University Sea Mammal Research Unit to monitor harbour seals and preserve life underwater.
Other demos include a connected bike, which uses an NB-IoT network to improve the operation of bike hire schemes, as well as a connected smart waste bin for improved refuse collection from China Unicom. China Mobile is demonstrating its OneNet platform that can be used for different IoT services such as smart homes, wearable devices and connected cars.
The GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative is helping to support the industry deliver commercial LPWA services in licensed spectrum. It is backed by 74 global mobile operators, device makers and chipset, module and infrastructure companies worldwide.
Chinese operators are on track to launch commercial 5G networks by 2020 and are expected to establish China as the world’s largest 5G market by 2025, according to a study by GSMA Intelligence and the China Academy of Information & Communications Technology (CAICT).
Cubic Telecom, a connectivity provider for automotive, PC and mobile brands, China Mobile, and Valid, an eSIM provider, announced at MWC Shnaghai their partnership to deliver LTE connectivity enablement to global IoT customers in China. This partnership provides eSIM technology, making LTE connectivity and subscription management easier for IoT device makers.