Orange Taps Lte-M and nb-iot For IoT Internet Connectivity

Mobile telecom operator Orange has announced two new network techniques dedicated to Internet of Things connectivity. Both new technologies are software additions, rather than changes to the hardware side of things. IoT devices will be able to access 4G network connectivity without any issues. Interestingly enough, Orange is not interested in using lora.

A Positive Sign For Internet of Things Development

Ever since the major Mirai botnet attack took place, the concept of Internet of Things has come under significant scrutiny.  However, Orange, a Belgian mobile telecom operator, has come out with some positive news. By introducing nb-iot and lte-m software standards for connectivity, the provider is paving the way for connecting more devices to the Internet.

Both of these software developments will be deployed in the first half of 2017. The provider has also announced that they will start providing [paid] Internet of Things services during the second semester of 2017. For now, it remains unclear what types of services users can enjoy, but more information will be revealed as we get closer to Q3 2017.

Hardware changes are not required for Orange, as their signal towers are capable of using nb-iot and lte-m through the currently available 4G network. Moreover, both new standards are within the same spectrum as 4G, making it far easier to push these changes through a software update. The telco has been working on their IoT strategy for quite some time, by the look of things.

The decision for these two network techniques is not random, as Orange expects lte-m and nb-iot will be compatible with 5G connectivity as well. Although the roll out of 5G is not on the agenda yet in Belgium, preparing for the future is never a bad idea.  However, the decision for these two particular network techniques is also greeted with scepticism.

Many IoT experts were hoping for mobile providers to embrace lora, a system that has been tried and tested in the past. Lora networks are actively offered by KPN and The Things Network in The Netherlands. Vodafone and T-Mobile, on the other hand, also embraced nb-iot. Either of these standards aims to reduce battery drain on IoT devices, while providing an excellent reception with fewer cell towers needed.

It’s nice to see mobile providers take slightly different approaches to providing Internet coverage for IOT devices. If everyone were to rely on one standard, competition would become less of a factor. Orange has defined their path for the coming years, and it will be exciting to see if their “gamble” pays off.

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