At Mobile World Congress 2018, Cisco announced that their Jasper Control Center for NB-IoT platform is now available globally through service provider partners in China, Australia and Singapore. Cisco expects NB-IoT to drive "astronomical" IoT growth, citing Gartner research that predicts the number of connected devices will reach 3 billion by 2023. TechRepublic spoke with Theresa Bui, director of IoT strategy at Cisco, about the announcement and how NB-IoT will drive increased IoT adoption.
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Teena Maddox: What is NB-IoT?
Theresa Bui: I'll start by answering that by saying one of the new areas that mobile operators or service providers have been looking at over the last few years is in this area called LPWAN (low power wide area networks). These are new networks that they're creating for the specific purpose of catering to the Internet of Things. So that my utility, my smart meter, my gas meter is not fighting on the same cellular network as my iPhone. Right. My gas meter every day literally sends and receives something like 26 kilobytes of data. So minimal. Right. [It] turns on once a day, connects to [a] cellular network, sends and receives 26 kilobytes of data, shuts off for another 24 hours, and does it again. Right. Whereas on my cellphone, I'm consuming literally megabytes of data a day. If my seven year old daughter has it, it could be, it could be astronomical amounts of data per day. So, they're carving out these specific networks, so that IoT devices can sit on these separate networks and not have to fight essentially against the traffic of much larger, high yielding data consuming devices. So, [LPWANs are] purpose built for  Internet of Things. NB- IoT is a flavor of LPWAN, and most services providers in Asia first and then in Europe are looking at [NB-IoT and] have geared up their networks to support NB-IoT specifically. It's called narrow band Internet of Things. That's the N B...narrow band for the Internet of Things.
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Teena Maddox: How can NB-IoT drive growth for the Internet of Things?
Theresa Bui: It is going to fuel growth astronomically. We believe China Unicom's estimates that in the first two years of commercial NB-IoT deployment at least 100 million devices [will] be connected [to] their NB-IoT network. That trumps a couple of numbers that I'm about to say later, but just to put that into perspective, Cisco is one of the largest IoT providers in the world. We within Cisco Jasper manage 70 million IoT devices across all of our service providers today. So for China Unicom to say, [they] expect in the next 24 months, just within the NB-IoT network that [they're] offering, [that they are] going to add another 100 million devices, you can see the astronomical growth that NB-IoT will afford. I think it's pretty exciting. For me it's exciting because we've been talking about pilots for two or three years now, and people testing NB-IoT, and thinking about NB-IoT. So for a major service provider in one of the largest markets in the world to say we're done testing, we're done piloting, we're rolling this out commercially, for me, it's incredibly exciting.
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Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.