Vodafone has announced it has been working with partner companies around the world to prepare its networks to support Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) services for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The company said this has been taking place since the rapid completion of the standards for Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

According to Vodafone, in February, it deployed the world’s first commercial NB-IoT service, which was based on fully integrated 3GPP standards. It was introduced via a remote software upgrade of over 1,000 existing 4G base stations in six major Spanish cities.

Explaining that it worked closely with partners Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and Affirmed Networks, Vodafone said it has extended the reach of NB-IoT to its networks around the world. Meanwhile, it said it has also been testing the interoperability of NB-IoT modules from several vendors on its networks, a process called Interoperability Development Testing (IODT).

Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone’s head of research and development and technology strategy, said: “As a company committed to a multi-vendor strategy, we understand the importance of a healthy device and network ecosystem in delivering the best service to customers at a competitive price.

“We have tested devices from Neul and Qualcomm against Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia systems in multiple regions. All of these vendors’ NB-IoT Radio Access Network (RAN) technology has been successfully interconnected with Vodafone’s IoT core network.”

Speaking about the testing it has been doing in partnership with Vodafone, Ericsson head of product line 4G RAN and RAN mobile broadband Eric Parsons said it involves interconnectivity testing of its own system with commercial NB-IoT chipsets and multiple device vendors. He also emphasised the importance of NB-IoT in smart cities and other massive IoT applications.

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