LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2017: As operators around the globe choose sides on low power wide area (LPWA) technology, T-Mobile US said narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is the perfect fit both for the operator’s spectrum resources and the applications it’s looking to serve.
“It uses a lot less spectrum,” T-Mobile’s SVP of Technology Dave Mayo told Mobile World Live at the operator’s IoT event in San Francisco this week. “Cat-M requires you to dedicate big blocks of spectrum, and we felt for the use case, NB-IoT was a better match for the spectrum resources we’d apply to the problem.”
T-Mobile has already revealed plans to launch nationwide NB-IoT coverage next year. Mayo indicated the operator will initially launch the technology on its PCS and AWS airwaves (Band 2 and Band 4). The roll out will require baseband and software updates in about half the network and software upgrades alone in the other half, he added.
Doug Chartier, T-Mobile’s SVP of MVNO, IoT, and M2M, said the operator is looking to target low data throughput use cases with the technology, including applications such as utility and parking metres, water metering and monitoring, asset tracking, and smart home devices, among other things. Chartier said T-Mobile’s partners are already “highly interested” in the NB-IoT launch. The number of use cases is expected to ramp rapidly after launch, he added.
“Those partners using 2G and 3G modules, they all want NB-IoT,” Chartier said.
Revenue from those applications is also expected to grow quickly.
“For us, it’s a revenue stream we expect will begin ramping next year when we have the network live, but it is one that’s going to grow exponentially as the number of devices deployed grows very, very rapidly,” Rusty Lhamon, T-Mobile’s senior director of IoT Solutions, added.
“One of the things we’re looking at as we progress into the 5G era is the fact that today, as a whole, the wireless market in the US might be 400 million – round numbers – of connected devices, phones and other things,” he continued. “We’re looking at a world where there’s going to be 400 million in every metro area.”