Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone in Europe’s first NB-IoT roaming trial

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Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone have completed Europe's first NB-IoT roaming trial, an important step towards cross-border LPWAN services.

The trial, backed by the GSMA's Mobile IoT Initiative, saw Deutsche Telekom's global SIMs roam onto Vodafone Spain's network, while Vodafone global SIMs connected to T-Mobile Austria's network and commercial NB-IoT modules. The trial tested several technical features, including power saving mode (PSM) and long periodic tracking area update (TAU), and also measured throughput and round-trip times.

The ability to roam is critical for certain use cases, such as international logistics; it is also important for LPWAN device makers that want to sell products globally.

"The success of these trials is an important milestone in the development of a sustainable roaming environment for Mobile IoT networks, showcasing their capabilities as well as ensuring consistent service across geographical boundaries," said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. "The market has matured considerably in a very short time and we anticipate that this will be the year that Mobile IoT scales. Only licensed, managed mobile services can provide the secure low power connection that can meet future demand."

"Deutsche Telekom has successfully introduced and developed NB-IoT networks across most of its European footprint and we are very pleased to see the ecosystem rapidly expanding," said Ingo Hofacker, responsible for Deutsche Telekom Group's IoT Business. "First commercial offers are available on a national basis already, but now, operators need to satisfy customer demand for international coverage and service continuity as well."

Vodafone director of IoT Stefano Gastaut said: "This development shows the successful evolution of the technology and I am confident that it will lead to a raft of new applications for NB-IoT, such as the cold chain monitoring of goods across borders."

NB-IoT is expected to become the dominant LPWAN cellular technology, according to a recent report by Berg Insight. The research firm predicts NB-IoT device shipments will reach 613.2 million units by 2023. By comparison, LTE-M device shipments are expected to hit 185.3 million by the same year.