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Where to Start with NB-IoT and What to Expect

Having considered the options out there for Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) solutions, you’ve concluded that NB-IoT is the most viable and beneficial for your organisation.

How then do you proceed? It’s a matter of looking at why you chose to implement NB-IoT in the first place and being very specific about your requirements.

Getting strategic

The reality is that whatever the solution, there is no one-size-fits-all option. Rather than being over-ambitious at first, choose to start small and scale up with your needs.

With NB-IoT’s growth, the technology has been around long enough for solutions to be affordable, and, with continued expansion, prices are likely to continue to fall. Even so, it doesn’t mean you need to immediately deploy as many devices as you can afford.

Instead, ensure you have your bases covered as to what data you intend to collect with your devices. Perhaps you can even take it by stages, collecting one specific set first before expanding.

It’s not enough to know what data you are collecting but how it will be acquired, stored, managed, shared, and used.

This could all be part of a greater data strategy, which as described by SAS, could function as a road map to align data-related activities in a way that would complement and build on one another, delivering greater benefits in the long run.

What problem needs solving?

A solution is an answer to a problem – what issues do you think NB-IoT could resolve for you? Consider similar use cases and see if you could apply their approaches and customise them to your needs.

In the case of a municipality, monitoring parking meters and bays is a concern. Common problems include rising costs and inefficiency in manually collecting readings, the inability to respond quickly to technical issues with meters, and the lack of visibility into the demand and supply of parking bays. Cities are increasingly turning to NB-IoT for solutions.

In Yunnan, China, the Yunnan Intelligent Parking Project saw smart parking sensors installed at 4,000 spaces. And in Southeast Guizhou, six sets of entrance and exit systems were installed around a parking lot alongside a parking management system that connected more than 300 parking bays.

The new NB-IoT enabled systems provided a way to manage parking with reduced management and maintenance costs. Billings are now more accurate, and remote monitoring has delivered cost savings in manpower and time, while also enabling efforts to increase utilisation of parking bays, thereby increasing revenue.

This is just one example of a successful use case. Start by defining your desired outcome and the quantifiable results you wish to achieve, be it reducing time, cost, or simply optimising overall operations.

Where to Start with NB-IoT and What to Expect
What to look for

The best option is to seek a knowledgeable service provider that can meet your requirements. Said provider must have working networks in your desired location with the expertise and experience in managing, as well as providing support for successful deployments.

With cost being an important consideration, especially in the long run, a provider that allows you the option of investing little to no capital expenditure would be ideal.

A pay-per-device model would be more practical as it would give you the flexibility of scaling, while still ensuring you are able to meet your current needs.

You want to seek out a provider with a proven track record as well as reliable coverage. A provider that has working networks in key locations, as well as your target area, is a sign the network provider is in it for the long haul. It also gives you options in case of business relocation or expansion.

It’s also important to know just what you’re getting from your provider. How comprehensive is the package? How does it compare to other competing solutions in your area? Make sure you are truly getting a best-in-class solution that is on par with current industry standards.  

Maxis, for instance, partners with Vodafone, a Magic Quadrant leader for M2M services worldwide and is spearheading the NB-IoT rollout in various European countries.

What also matters is peace of mind; a fully managed solution would allow you to focus on your business goals without expending resources on upkeep and the technical aspects of NB-IoT. Thus, you would need to ensure you can rely on your chosen provider.

Going the distance

Once your requirements and business objectives have been clarified, as well as selecting your NB-IoT provider, it’s a matter of getting it done.

The right NB-IoT provider will have a ready network in place and facilities to help test solutions tailored to your specific needs.

While NB-IoT is not a magic cure-all for your current business concerns, it opens the door to the possibilities in digital transformation and unlocking all the potential IoT has to offer.

More in this series:

See how you can transform your business with Maxis NB-IoT