China Mobile makes $300m push in IoT

By Ma Si | | Updated: 2017-11-24 17:04

China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier by subscribers, will hand out 2 billion yuan ($303 million) as subsidies to internet of things (IoT) device makers, as part of its broad push to build one of the world's largest IoT networks.

Li Yue, president of China Mobile, said on Friday that half of the cash will be used to finance companies which make narrow-band IoT modules, with the other half going to 4G IoT module makers.

Narrow-band IoT technology, which can connect billions of low-power devices such as smart meters, transmit small amounts of bandwidth and can be used for many years without interference. It works in a smarter way than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The cash subsidy is meant to lower the costs of IoT devices and accelerate the application of the booming industry, Li added at China Mobile's global partners' conference in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.   

China Mobile aims to enable 120 million internet connections next year, as it scrambles to connect a large number of products to the internet, including home appliances, vehicles, as well as water and gas meters that often lie in basements, deeply shadowed areas and even underground pipes.

The plan will put its total internet connections to more than 320 million.

"Narrow band IoT is the latest IoT battlefield that global telecom carriers are scrambling for so they can establish a beachhead," said Xiang Ligang, chief executive of telecom industry website Cctime.

The State-owned company aims to build the world's largest NB-IoT network, which will cover 346 cities by the end of 2018.

In a report published in May, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology encouraged narrow band IoT's commercial use in industrial internet and urban public service and management. It also supports smart factories and the internet of vehicles.

On Friday, China Mobile also said it has conducted the world's first end-to-end 5G New Radio technology test in collaboration with ZTE Corp and Qualcomm Inc. The test means the three sides have crossed a milestone toward pre-commercialization of 5G communication technologies, it added.

The interoperability test was based on the 5G New Radio specifications under development by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, or 3GPP, an industry coalition dedicated to promoting global wireless communication standards.

It was tested at China Mobile's 5G Joint Innovation Center.

The company also aims to have 700 million 4G users by 2018. Currently, it has about 630 million 4G users.

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