Vodafone to double its European NB-IoT network

Vodafone is doubling the number of European cell sites that support the Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) standard in a bid to extend its lead in the Internet of Things (IoT)

The operator has been NB-IoT’s strongest supporter, arguing that unless a common Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) standard was adopted by the mobile industry, it would lose out to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Sigfox in the race to connect IoT.

Although mobile networks have clear advantages in terms of coverage, its relatively high power consumption makes it unsuitable for devices that need to be deployed for several years on a single charge and only require minimal levels of bandwidth.

Vodafone IoT

NB-IoT addresses these concerns while also offering levels of security similar to 4G. It also uses licensed spectrum to maintain a minimal level of service.

Vodafone’s NB-IoT networks can support up to 50,000 devices in a single cell, while devices can be deployed for up to ten years on a single charge. The standard will also be a key component of 5G.

As part of this latest expansion, Vodafone’s existing networks in the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Turkey will be densified while new networks will be launched in the UK, Romania and Hungary.

Vodafone claims to have as many as 74 million IoT connections worldwide and that there is strong enterprise demand for NB-IoT-powered applications.

“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,” said Stefano Gastaut, Vodafone IoT director.

“Our NB-IoT network reinforces our position as the premier telecoms company for IoT and means that our customers can connect the next generation of devices to the world’s largest and most secure international network.”

The GSMA claims there are now more than 48 mobile IoT networks (both NB-IoT and LTE-M) from 24 mobile operators, with Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom holding IoT roaming trials earlier this year.


Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.