Vodafone is set to double the number of European cell sites in its 5G Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network footprint by the end of 2019.
The prioritisation of NB-IoT within Vodafone’s existing capital expenditure plans reflects the demand it has seen from enterprise customers, said the firm.
The international NB-IoT network will be available in 10 European countries including planned launches in the UK, Romania and Hungary.
NB-IoT is the ‘industrial grade’ Low Power Wide Area technology that will provide connectivity to many smart city applications such as streetlights, connected healthcare monitors and wearable devices at low cost and with equivalent security to 4G.
It will also benefit the agriculture industry in rural areas, giving rise to new crop monitoring systems, automated feeding for crops and herds and even support for animals giving birth, all helping to shape the connected farm of the future.
NB-IoT operates in licenced spectrum to guarantee customers quality of service, provides strong coverage over large areas - even when devices are underground or deep within buildings (+20 decibels coverage vs GSM) - provides greater power efficiency, so devices can run on batteries for 10 years or more on a single charge, and provides Vodafone with the ability to support upwards of 50,000 devices in a single cell without congestion for the first time.
Outside of Europe, Vodafone will also expand its existing NB-IoT networks in South Africa and Turkey.
Vodafone IoT Director Stefano Gastaut stated: “NB-IoT gives businesses access to 5G capabilities a year before we expect large-scale consumer availability and I believe this will be a catalyst in the widespread use of IoT by enterprises.”
Vodafone has launched NB-IoT networks in Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Turkey.