Vodafone UK have added NB-IoT coverage to their online network status checker.
If you want to go straight to it, it is here: https://www.vodafone.co.uk/business/network-coverage-checker
If you want to find out how it works and what it’s for, read on.
What is it for?
Vodafone’s network status checker shows you how Vodafone’s network is performing around the UK. You can search for a postcode (ideally), a town or city, or some other location name in the UK. It’ll show you the coverage in that area of all the supported network types provided by Vodafone, now including NB-IoT! It’ll also show you of any ongoing network outages or issues, you can sign up for alerts too so you get notified on any issues that happen.
Why do I need to know?
If you are going to deploy NB-IoT devices, there needs to be network coverage in the area(s) you intend on placing those devices. Unlike LoRaWAN where you can place gateways to create your own coverage, NB-IoT (and other cellular IoT technologies such as LTE-M) are provided by cellular network carriers in the same way as the phone signal for your mobile phone is. As such, there must be coverage in the area you want to use for an NB-IoT device to work.
This means it is essential that you check network coverage before even thinking about buying and deploying NB-IoT devices or you’ll be wasting a lot of time, effort and money if you install devices only to find they don’t work because there’s no network.
Before this checker was available, this process involved email and manual checks by Vodafone which took some time, now this online checker is available, you can do the checks immediately and even see where coverage is planned in the next 3 months.
How does it work, how do I use it?
Web browse to the online network status checker here: https://www.vodafone.co.uk/business/network-coverage-checker
This is what it looks like:
Simply type the location you want to install your NB-IoT devices into the “enter location” search box. Ideally put in a postcode for the most accurate results.
The result hopefully looks something like this:
The entire map shown is red (as oppose to pink or light pink or white) which means “good” coverage for the whole area. Make sure you have one of the two “NB” options selected in the box on the left side, you can click other ones to check the other network types but if you are interested in NB-IoT coverage, you need to select NB-in or NB-out.
NB-in means likely coverage indoors, inside buildings. NB-out means likely coverage outdoors, on the outside of a building or on the streets. Generally speaking, outdoors coverage will always be slightly better than indoors although NB-IoT is very good at going through walls and structures.
It’s important to note that this coverage is a calculated coverage, Vodafone don’t have millions of people constantly going around the UK checking coverage in every street. This means that this coverage is not guaranteed and there maybe small “dead” areas even within this “good” overall area. But in our experience, that is unlikely for an area with complete “good” coverage.
Here’s a not so good area for comparison:
If you zoom out using the “-” button at the top right of the map you can see a wider area:
So Norwich doesn’t have total coverage at the moment although most of it does now have some coverage.
You can then see what coverage Vodafone have planned for this area within the next 3 months, since they are constantly improving NB-IoT coverage and activating it on more and more mobile towers.
Click the “Planned (3 months)” option at the bottom of the white box to the right and you’ll see what coverage will hopefully be like in the near future:
So that’s much better. Bear in mind, this is just planned coverage, get in touch with us if you are worried and we should be able to get more concrete information from Vodafone as to their network plans for your area.
Get in touch with us to talk about our cellular IoT offerings, including:
- Vodafone NB-IoT SIMs, at any scale from projects involving 1000s of SIMs to proof of concept single SIMs. Vodafone NB-IoT SIMs
- NB-IoT sensors and devices, because the SIM cards are no use without a device to put them in! Cellular IoT devices
- Symbius IoT cloud middleware. Get your data from your devices into your platform with ease. Symbius
- Advice, consultancy, help getting started. Talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about
Give us a call on +44 (0)1484599544
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