In September the 3GPP secured a last minute compromise on specifications to define narrowband IoT within its next release (R16) as NB-IoT. Now several of the parties involved have kicked off a Forum to try and “accelerate the ecosystem around Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology.”
Details are limited so far: a preparatory event, led by Vodafone, was held on Friday 6 November, with attendees from China Mobile, China Unicom, Ericsson, Etisalat, the GSMA, GTI, Huawei ,Intel, LG Uplus, Nokia, Qualcomm Incorporated, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Vodafone.
A release distributed by Huawei on behalf of the Forum said, “The Forum will be hosted within an existing industry level organisation” but could not name the actual forum. Candidates might include the GSMA or perhaps 3GPP itself? The statement also said that the detailed scope, format and objectives of the forum will now be worked on, “with membership extended to further companies in future”.
The basic aim of the Forum is to enable demos and Proof of concept trials, and drive the development of NB-IoT applications in vertical markets. The companies have also agreed to establish six labs across the world to focus on new service innovation.
Notwithstanding the nascent nature of the Forum, the statement claimed that there are already pre-standards customer pilots under way, and commercial NB-IoT rollouts will commence in 2017. Many of these, of course, will be on technology that was developed as NB-LTE or as NC-cIoT before the 3GPP rapprochment in September this year.
The industry already has a forum, the Wireless IoT Forum, which is trying to bring together the disparate LPWA market to agree on common specifications. Roughly speaking, the Wireless IoT Forum aims to bring together the “non-3GPP” community as best it can, whilst also aligning with 3GPP specifications for IoT technologies in licensed spectrum.
TMN wrote last week on the threat that new LPWA players are presenting to the established network equipment providers.
And you can read even more about the battle for LPWA here in a recent feature article for TMN Quarterly.