Huawei and Vodafone have agreed to establish the world’s first NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) Open Lab.

Under the agreement, this NB-IoT Open Lab initiative will drive strategic technology innovation and promote the eco-system relating to NB-IoT technology. Using pre-standard NB-IoT technology prior to full standardization, the Lab will enable the right development environment which will greatly enhance the efficiency of future NB-IoT ecosystem ramp-up.

The NB-IoT Open Lab will serve as the catalyst for initiatives to explore cutting edge developments and verifications including network solution verification, new application innovation, device integration, business model research and product compliance certification, etc.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Huawei in the creation of this new Open Lab facility for NB-IoT. As the technology moves towards commercial deployment in early 2017, it’s essential that we start building a strong ecosystem with developers and solution providers,” said Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone Group R&D director and chairman of the NB-IoT Forum.

David Wang, president of Wireless Product Line at Huawei, said: “This agreement builds on Huawei’s existing strong relationships with Vodafone and our joint commitment to lead the development of NB-IoT technology and its eco-system. Having successfully gained industry recognition, we will now continue to work closely with Vodafone to build a joint roadmap for the continuous evolution of the NB-IoT Open Lab to create innovative solutions to build a better connected world.”

NB-IoT technology will extend the utilization of Internet of Things (IoT) by making it more efficient to connect objects requiring a long battery life and are located in hard to reach areas to the Internet by ways of mobile connectivity. Able to be deployed over existing mobile networks, NB-IoT has strong industry support as a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology in licensed spectrum. The technology is viewed by the industry as the answer for enterprise applications in a range of different areas, from utility meters, sensor monitoring, to asset-tracking. The first devices connected by NB-IoT technology are expected in late 2016 or early 2017.