U-blox puts NB-IoT to the test in Brazil

U-blox puts NB-IoT to the test in Brazil

Wireless comms specialist U-blox is field-testing new IoT networks in Brazil alongside Huawei, Vivo, CAS Tecnologia and PinMyPet.

NB-IoT test networks have been set up in Brazil to experiment with metering and tracking applications.

The trials are being run by Swiss wireless communications specialist U-blox, in conjunction with partners Huawei, Vivo, CAS Tecnologia and PinMyPet. According to U-blox, the tests began at the start of the year, with the goal of gauging demand for low-power wide area network (LPWAN) connectivity.

The company claims that the benefits of Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) over other cellular radio technologies include lower device complexity, ultra-low power operation and support for more than 50,000 devices per single cellular cell.

Since NB-IoT uses licensed spectrum, it adds, it also offers greater security and high robustness from interference. That makes it “ideal for IoT and M2M applications requiring extremely low power consumption and better coverage even in shielded areas”, according to the company.

Read more: T-Mobile US bets on NB-IoT, completes Vegas live tests

U-blox module

Embedded in the test devices that partners are using on the networks is the U-blox SARA-N2 NB-IoT module, which the company claims is the world’s first cellular NB-IoT module compliant to the 3GPP Release 13, Narrowband IoT (LTE Cat NB1) standard.

Designed for use in applications such as smart buildings and cities, utilities metering, white goods, asset tracking, and agricultural and environmental monitoring, the module will operate for over 10 years from a single-cell primary battery.

The company said that the module’s 16 mm x 26 mm LGA form factor, using U-blox nested architecture, “facilitates simple upgrades from U-blox GSM, HSPA or CDMA modules and ensures future-proof, seamless mechanical scalability across technologies.”

Read more: Telefonica & Huawei launch NB-IoT open lab

Partner power

Brazilian telco Vivo, legally known as Telefonica Brazil and part of the Spanish multinational, is one of the partners taking part in the tests. “We are excited to partner with U-blox to help our mutual customers migrate to the new, low-power and low-cost Narrowband IoT technology that also offers excellent coverage,” said Vivo’s IoT senior manager, Eduardo Takeshi.

Another is CAS Tecnologia, a smart metering specialist for clients primarily in the utilities sector, based in Sao Paulo. The company’s CEO Welson Regis Jacometti believes that improved coverage of NB-IoT networks in Brazil “will bring important benefits to our solutions.”

Finally, there’s also pet tracking service PinMyPet, where the U-blox module delivers the “reliable, low-power and optimised LTE cellular connectivity necessary to our pet tracking device,” explained company director Marcos Buson.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Adulis at SmartCore, which represents U-blox in Brazil, commented that since 2G networks cannot keep pace with the increasing number of IoT devices, NB-IoT represents “the natural evolutionary step for wireless operators, hardware manufacturers and end customers.”

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