Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology, a proposed standard for Low Power Wide Area (LPWA), has been given its first commercial trial by Vodafone and Huawei.
The test is significant because LPWA is a type of telecoms network designed to allow long range communications at a low bit rate among things (connected objects), such as sensors operated on a battery.
It is believed that NB-IoT, a parallel mobile network designed specifically to deliver IoT traffic by requiring significantly less power on the part of the individual devices, is able to provide a battery life of ten years.
This is crucial due to the fact that many IoT devices are expected to be deployed away from mains electricity and it is simply not feasible or cost-efficient for the battery to have to be constantly replaced.
The joint test, conducted in Spain, comprised sending a message via Vodafone's network to a u-blox module installed in a water meter.
"Vodafone has led the development of NB-IoT, the LPWA technology in licensed spectrum that has gained huge industry support," said Matt Beal, director of innovation and architecture at the Vodafone Group.
"The completion of this first commercial trial with our partners is further evidence of that. Once commercialised, NB-IoT will provide tangible benefits for our enterprise customers, principally making it feasible to connect more devices to IoT."
Vodafone hopes the successful test will lead to the finalising of the NB-IoT standard, with the operator claiming that without a common LPWA system, the mobile industry would only be able to cater for 10-15% of the potential market.