Voda­fone pushes bound­aries of con­nec­tiv­ity by bring­ing next gen­er­a­tion IoT tech­nol­ogy to Malta

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

Voda­fone is launch­ing next gen­er­a­tion In­ter­net of Things for the first time in Malta, push­ing the bound­aries of con­nec­tiv­ity even fur­ther.

IoT is no longer a mere buzz­word. In­creas­ingly more ev­ery­day ob­jects are in­cor­po­rat­ing sen­sor tech­nol­ogy con­nected to the in­ter­net, al­low­ing com­pa­nies, homes and ev­ery­thing in be­tween to op­er­ate smartly.

For ex­am­ple, when con­nected to the IoT, rub­bish bins could no­tify au­thor­i­ties when they are full and need emp­ty­ing. Wa­ter me­ters could re­port on con­sump­tion and po­ten­tial leaks. Smoke alarms could ver­ify their sta­tus with­out man­ual test­ing. Th­ese are all use­ful func­tions that could save time and money — es­pe­cially when con­sid­er­ing that there are thou­sands of th­ese kinds of ob­jects around us in our homes, work­places and towns. The ap­pli­ca­tions are prac­ti­cally end­less: mois­ture sen­sors in agri­cul­ture, pres­sure sen­sors in gas tanks, bur­glar alarms and park­ing space mon­i­tor­ing.

The prob­lem with con­ven­tional IoT so­lu­tions is that they can be com­pletely overkill and un­eco­nom­i­cal for th­ese po­ten­tial use cases. A bin, a wa­ter me­ter or a house alarm doesn’t need to send lots of data; per­haps just a few bytes per day.

What they do need is IoT hard­ware and con­nec­tiv­ity that is ex­tremely low cost, lasts for years on a sin­gle bat­tery charge, and can re­li­ably con­nect even when they’re in­stalled in ob­jects such as base­ments or un­der­ground.

En­ter the new­est kid on the block: Nar­row­band IoT (NB-IoT) tech­nol­ogy, which Voda­fone is bring­ing to Malta for the first time, pow­ered over Voda­fone Su­perNet and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nokia and Af­firmed.

NB-IoT is a new tech­nol­ogy stan­dard, just like 3G and 4G, de­signed to pro­vide con­nec­tiv­ity for an IoT ap­pli­ca­tion. De­vices are equipped with sen­sors used to mon­i­tor and col­lect data, which is then trans­mit­ted over the NB-IoT net­work and stored on a server. The data can then be man­aged and con­verted into in­for­ma­tion which can be vi­su­alised through dash­boards in apps or web­sites.

Its break­through tech­nol­ogy means that it's able to main­tain a strong, un­in­ter­rupted con­nec­tion, whilst also conserving bat- tery. This makes it par­tic­u­larly suited to mon­i­tor­ing de­vices such as wa­ter me­ters, which have a ten­dency to turn up in dif­fi­cult lo­ca­tions with poor net­work cov­er­age. NB IoT, how­ever, has ex­cel­lent cov­er­age and pen­e­tra­tion. So, for in­stance, by in­stalling con­nected flow me­ters around a wa­ter dis­tri­bu­tion net­work, a util­ity com­pany could au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect leaks, mean­ing less time, cost and dis­rup­tion dig­ging up roads.

"The evo­lu­tion of IoT means that there is an ur­gent need for a low-power way to con­nect thou­sands of de­vices," Ken­neth Spi­teri, Di­rec­tor of En­ter­prise and Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment at Voda­fone Malta, said.

"NB-IoT fits the bill per­fectly. We are there­fore de­lighted to be the first lo­cal oper­a­tor to pro­vide a NB-IoT net­work to our cus­tomers. Our lat­est in­no­va­tion will pro­vide a head start to Mal­tese busi­nesses and con­sumers in their race to be­come truly smart and ef­fi­cient, rad­i­cally sav­ing time and money”.

Mon­i­tor­ing plant and soil con­di­tions can lead to a fan­tas­tic re­turn on in­vest­ment for farm­ers.

NB-IoT tech­nol­ogy can au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect leaks, mean­ing less time, cost and dis­rup­tion dig­ging up roads.

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