India’s two major telecom companies, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are reportedly betting on their respective capability to launch commercial narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) services.
NarrowBand-IoT is a technology built on low power wide area (LPWA) network. LPWA is a network, designed to support affordable and remote internet of things (IoT) applications which have slow data transmission speeds, and requires long battery life. Some examples of IoT applications are agricultural drones, smart speakers, and home security systems.
NB-IoT is expected to improve the power consumption of user devices, system capacity and spectrum efficiency, especially in deep coverage.
Reliance Jio had reportedly launched a NB-IoT pilot in Mumbai in 2018 and is expected to launch commercial services in the next few months.
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“Jio has a unique advantage again being only (4G) LTE and all-IP network…we have the capability compared to any other operator to launch nationwide NB-IoT in India without having any incremental spectrum leveraging guard bands,” Jio president Mathew Oommen told ET.
However, Airtel countered its archrival’s claim and reportedly said, “We have the capability to serve this segment and the market opportunity will depend on how the ecosystem develops and matures. In addition, we can offer IoT and M2M services on our networks.”
Meanwhile Vodafone Idea Ltd. (VIL) had also rolled out its NB-IoT commercial proof of concepts for services in Kochi, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Chennai. VIL’s chief entreprise business officer has said in a media statement that it will expand its NB-IoT services across India in the next one year.
Future of NB-IoT Technology
Analysys Mason, a UK-based telecom consultant, has forecasted that LPWA technologies like NB-IoT, will generate $5 Bn globally in connectivity revenue by 2025.
By 2022, Strategy Analytics, a predictive analysis firm estimated that network operators (Jio, Airtel, etc) could be generating more than $13 Bn from LPWA connectivity, as well as significant additional revenues from value-added services, such as data analytics and security.
Talking about the application of NB-IoT, Oommen said, “The biggest use case is smart city uses, whether it is waste management, ag-tech, smart meters or smart energy – all these are very critical to us because these can bring in the energy efficiency to India,”
Supporting this claim, Vodafone Idea Ltd also said that the prime growth drivers for NB-IoT will be smart cities along with application such as smart meters, automotive tracking and utilities.
Oommen also added that 5G’s ecosystem for the internet of things (IoT) will largely depend on India’s deployment of NB-IoT. According to Indian government-backed 5G High Level Forum’s report, 5G network is expected to be launched in India by 2020 and predicted to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 Tn in India by 2035.