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13 Companies announce NB-IoT Chips

Could be unlucky for some…

If history is anything to go by, it’s going to be unlucky for some, but it’s an indication of the momentum which is growing around cellular IoT that so many chip companies have jumped on the bandwagon. 

It’s not cheap to develop a cellular chip, even one that is moderately simple, such as is the case with the NB-IoT standard.  Back in 2012, when I wrote about the cost of developing wireless standards, I put it at around $6 million for each chip and protocol stack.  That was looking at Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.  With the additional complexity of any cellular standard, along with network interoperability testing, it becomes far more expensive, as you need to test with as many operators as possible.  Hence the development cost to get a chip and stack to market is probably at least $15 million. 

With thirteen different companies bringing chips to market, that’s an investment of around $200 million.  Some of these have tried to cut their development time by acquiring start-ups which were already some way down the route.  Sony purchased Altair, Huawei bought Neul, ARM bought NextG-Com and Mistbase, Goodix acquired CommSolid, while Nordic Semiconductor picked up around 60 engineers in Finland’s Oulu.  We don’t know how much they spent on these acquisitions, but it’s probably well over $200 million.  Add to that the costs of the standardisation process, infrastructure development and initial market trials and it’s clear that somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion has already been spent on getting NB-IoT to the point where it is today.  That’s a level of investment that should be worrying competing standards like LoRa and Sigfox, as the NB-IoT companies will do all they can to recoup their investment. Continue →

March 6th, 2018 | Published in Wireless Connectivity  |  2 Comments


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About Creative Connectivity

Creative Connectivity is Nick Hunn's blog on aspects and applications of wireless connectivity. Having worked with wireless for over twenty years I've seen the best and worst of it and despair at how little of its potential is exploited.

I hope that's about to change, as the demands of healthcare, energy and transport apply pressure to use wireless more intelligently for consumer health devices, smart metering and telematics. These are my views on the subject - please let me know yours.

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