Cisco has made Narrowband IoT available to all companies using the vendor's Jasper Control Center, which provides cellular connectivity for a wireless internet-of-things deployment.
Cisco announced this week the global availability of the technology standard during the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Within a low-power wide area network, Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) makes it possible to deploy far more devices than traditional cellular technology.
Cisco service provider partners in Australia, China and Singapore will be the first to provide NB-IoT services to customers through the Jasper Control Center. Partners include China Unicom, Cisco said.
The full Jasper-powered service will provide businesses with the ability to manage their cellular and NB-IoT devices. Proponents expect NB-IoT to be particularly useful to cities deploying IoT technology to improve traffic flows, asset tracking, waste management and other services.
Narrowband IoT Australian trials
Cisco announced last year at Mobile World it had finished NB-IoT trials on the Jasper Control Center platform with Optus, a service provider based in Australia. At the time, Optus said Jasper provided a "consistent user experience to our customers across both traditional cellular and NB-IoT."
The difference between a traditional cellular network, such as Long Term Evolution, and NB-IoT is the latter's ability to raise the number of supported devices from tens of millions to hundreds of millions.
The Jasper Control Center stems from Cisco's $1.4 billion acquisition of Jasper Technologies in 2016. The purchase added cellular connectivity to Cisco's wireless IoT portfolio, which primarily offered low-power options for static devices. Enterprises typically use mobile networks for things in motion, such as cars or trucks.
Cisco's 5G Now services
In other Mobile World Congress news, Cisco introduced its 5G Now product portfolio for service providers that want to get a jump start on offering 5G services. The package includes the new NCS-500 Series of access routers. The hardware runs Cisco's IOS XR network operating system as a single domain from the data center to the cell tower, the company said.
The portfolio also includes Cisco's evolved packet core, called Ultra. An EPC is a framework for providing converged voice and data on a cellular network.
Another element of the portfolio is a 5G security architecture that includes Cisco's Stealthwatch intrusion detection system. The latest Stealthwatch version focuses, in part, on breach detection in EPC and network slices.
"5G Now is a repackaging of Cisco's existing portfolio with some new enhancements and additions that were recently announced ahead of [Mobile World Congress]," said Rajesh Ghai, an analyst at IDC.