Telekom Austria carried out the first demonstration of NB-IoT in Austria back in June. What did you want to achieve with this trial?
For us it was important to show in this live demo (Press release here) that there are already pre-standard implementations ongoing and together with our RAN partner NOKIA we demonstrated that this is actually working in practice and not just in theory. Moreover the displayed use case was very intuitive – a connected bicycle which was better connected in rural environment as well as in urban space due to the improved coverage capabilities of NB-IoT. However, we are currently seeing the most interest in standardized LPWAN solutions coming from industries such as the utility sector or smart cities. In these areas highly beneficial business cases are possible by digitalization – and the connectivity layer is one very important layer to achieve this digitalization. So in this development phase of the market we are working to position Telekom Austria Group as market leader in our region with respect to upcoming M2M/IoT technologies. Only with a sound understanding of the technological and operational capabilities of NB-IoT it’s possible to professionally support our business customers and to develop new solutions together with them.
Why has Telekom Austria opted out of investing in non-cellular LPWA technologies?
Our strategy is to focus on standardized technologies which can be easily integrated into our network and operational processes. In our opinion 3GPP based (i.e. cellular) LPWAN developments guarantee a smooth extension of cellular services into the LPWAN space. Smooth extension means here also that it is the best choice from economical point of view for us and our customers alike – no new towers need to be built, nor new frequencies to be purchased, there is even no need to touch the antennas. There is simply no cheaper way to roll out a country wide network with thousands of sites gaining extremely good coverage even in the most challenging deep indoor environments such as basements, manholes, etc…
Furthermore by relying on the proven 3GPP ecosystem we can provide two additional benefits that are extremely relevant in many IoT and digitalization business cases. First, we are relying on licensed spectrum which allows critical applications to be handled. There is no risk in facing unexpected interferences and performance issues. Second, and maybe even more important, 3GPP and NB-IoT in particular is backed by many of the biggest Telcos in the world which garantees for global adoption of the standard. This global adoption will drive the module costs down and ensures a very long life cycle of the technology. Especially the life cycle of Telco technologies is very impressive – looking at GSM it’s been now available for almost 30 years now in many markets.
What are you seeking to gain from attending LPWA Europe?
As with every new technology in the telecommunications space it only makes sense in case you have a network and the corresponding devices at the same time. The network side we already know in all the details based on our long lasting partnerships with our RAN suppliers. However, on solution/hardware/module/chipset side it’s important for us to see what are the latest developments. We’d like to see use-cases and products that are currenty being developed so that we can bring this knowledge to our customers. The ecosystem, or I would rather call it solution-eco-system, is becoming more and more important to the M2M and IoT space. Most businesses today are not only looking for a connectivity provider but for somebody that could take end-2-end responsibility for a digitalized business process. For example we did connect several thousand construction machines (Press release here) but the connectivity is not a value by itself but the proactive maintenance based on the connectivity is a very big added value compared to the costs. LPWA Europe is a good platform for us to learn about best practice and seek for new partnerships within the ecosystem. On top the co-location with European Utility Week allows for strengthening our already established focus on the Energy & Utilities sector.