Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, has today officially launched Vodafone Ireland’s commercial Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network.  Vodafone is the first Irish operator to bring this technology to market and is on course to help transform Ireland into a ‘smart nation.’

NB-IoT is a low power wide area network (LPWA) technology. It is designed to wirelessly connect millions of devices that have low bandwidth requirements and will enable society to become smarter and more efficient, massively benefiting citizens as well as businesses. Irish consumers will see a huge variety of products, services and applications enabled by NB-IoT.

For example, smart rubbish bins will be able to alert a local authority when full, reducing cost and improving city cleanliness. Parking bays can be fitted with sensors, providing drivers with information about where the nearest parking space is available and reducing traffic congestion. Farmers will be able to monitor and track livestock in real time on a smartphone or tablet.

In preparing for this rollout, Vodafone upgraded its existing 4G base stations to provide nationwide NB-IoT coverage which will have the ability to run alongside existing 2G, 3G and 4G networks.

Key benefits of NB-IoT technology include:

  • Strong coverage over large areas, even when devices are underground or deep within buildings
  • Greater power efficiency, so devices can run on batteries for 10 years or more on a single charge
  • Ability to support a huge number of devices in a single cell without congestion
  • Low-cost communications hardware, enabling user devices to be built for only a few euros;
  • NB-IoT operates in a fully licenced spectrum which guarantees the quality of service.

NB-IoT has broad support within the mobile industry from 40 global mobile operators, 27 technology vendors and over 550 mobile IoT innovators.

NB-IoT will also provide benefits to communities in rural Ireland, with a number of advancements in connected health, such as Remote Health Care, First Responder Connectivity and Emergency Alert Monitoring for the sick or elderly.

Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment said: “Today’s announcement by Vodafone Ireland is warmly welcomed and I’m delighted to support such innovation. This is a significant technology milestone that holds the potential to connect millions of devices and change the way we use and interact with technology. Ireland continues to be at the forefront of such innovation, with this latest rollout by Vodafone being a true testament to the limitless possibility NB-IoT can offer.”

“My Department is committed to working closely with industry to ensure that digital advancements such as NB-IoT meet the needs of our society, as well as ensuring Ireland punches above its weight when it comes to innovation.”

Anne O’Leary, CEO at Vodafone Ireland said: “The evolution of the Internet of Things means that there is an urgent need for a low-power way to connect thousands of devices. NB-IoT fits the bill perfectly. We are therefore delighted to be the first Irish operator to provide a fully commercial, nationwide NB-IoT network to our customers. Our latest innovation will provide a head start to Irish businesses and consumers in their race to become truly smart and efficient, radically saving time and money”

Anne O’Leary added: “We are delighted to be able to build on Vodafone’s core offering for our customers.  The NB-IoT network is a standards based technology and is deployed in the licenced spectrum which is important from a security perspective.  Our service offers specialist security consultancy to provide advisory support and security assessments to ensure that the security and data protection of our customers is protected. “