3 Hong Kong, the mobile arm under Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings Limited (HTHKH), has completed construction of a city-wide NB-IoT network on the 900-MHz spectrum band, with technology partner Huawei Technologies.
3 HK and Huaweihave built the NB-IoT infrastructure with NB-IoT modules designed in accordance with the 3GPP standard to facilitate tests and development of NB-IoT applications. The operator has also adopted NFV technology to enable proof-of-concept activity around NB-IoT applications, and use cloud technology to negate need of additional hardware for testing.
HTHKH CEO Cliff Woo said the operator is working with industry partners and startups, including those incubated by the Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), on exploring and developing NB-IoT applications for verticals and businesses.
The collaboration between 3 Hong Kong and HKSTP aims to open up business opportunities by enabling start-ups to develop NB-IoT applications for various industries and take them to market.
3 HK has also teamed up with affiliates of CK Hutchison Group, including Power Assets Holdings Limited, to research possibilities of applying NB-IoT technology in different areas, including smart metering for utilities. Such applications are also being developed for surveillance and management of oil pipelines, while others involve big data analysis and smart surveillance.
Woo said 3 HK’s newly-established NB-IoT network will support the development of services that can be commercialized. The operator has also established an inter-departmental taskforce designed to make technical, as well as sales and marketing experts, available to start-ups. The idea is to help transform R&D results into marketable NB-IoT services, the executive said.
As part of its effort to prepare for 5G, 3 HK has deployed 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) on it network which allows the operator to boost network speed by up to 30%. The company has also started deploying 4×4 MIMO (multiple input multiple output) and Massive MIMO devices to increase spectral efficiency.
Woo said 3 HK has already obtained a temporary permit to conduct 5G radio propagation tests via 3.5GHz in a live indoor environment.
3 HK is the latest mobile carrier in the city to roll out NB-IoT, following China Mobile Hong Kong, which last week launched a commercial NB-IoT network. SmarTone had also previously said that it has deployed NB-IoT on its mobile network.
According to a study by the GSMA, IoT will be a $1.8 trillion revenue opportunity for mobile operators by 2026, driven partly by the early deployment of commercial low power wide area (LPWA) networks in licensed spectrum.
Research conducted for the industry association by Machina Research found that new mobile IoT applications and services represent huge growth opportunities for mobile operators.
To date over 12 operators have launched commercial mobile IoT services. These include China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, South Korea's KT and LG Uplus as well as Singapore's M1.