Without really noticing it, the world around us is becoming ever more 'smarter'. There are containers that warn the refuse collector that they are almost full, sensors that tell the police where a stolen car is driving, sweet machines that notify the supplier long before the last candy bar has been sold. And that is only the beginning. Related news Vodafone's new Internet of Things

"Watch out, you're approaching a stationary car in one kilometre." These are warnings drivers can receive if they are participating in a new pilot project of Vodafone and Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat). Every so often, Rijkswaterstaat inspectors have to remove debris from the motorway in the wake of an accident. As a result, the carriageway is blocked for a short while. These temporary road blocks are obviously not included in the traffic reports on the radio which means motorists are sometimes terror-struck. In this pilot they are warned a few kilometres ahead by the little box on their dashboard. We can specify the target group for this message in such a way that only motorists who are driving in that specific neighbourhood get notified.

For two decades, Vodafone has been involved in 'the Internet of Things' (IoT) in its capacity as a mobile provider. Today, we celebrate the 50 millionth connection between devices over the Vodafone network worldwide. It's therefore fair to say we are the market leader in mobile device-to-device communication. 

We love nothing more than using our technology to improve the business of our customers. We closely cooperate with big brands like Philips, TomTom and Porsche. At the same time we support many start-ups that have innovative ideas in the field of IoT. We are also involved in health care projects, like our most recent partnership with AnTail, specialized in monitoring medicines. People who need to take the pharmaceutical company's medication receive remote tips about how to store their medicines. 

We used to call this phenomenon 'Machine to Machine'. And developments are evolving so fast that I wouldn't be surprised if we give it yet another name a few years from now. Or, perhaps those smart devices have become so ordinary by then, that they don't need a special name anymore. After all, who still calls his iPhone a 'mobile' phone, or says his camera is 'digital'?

Never miss a second
I have been involved in technology, media and telecommunications for twenty years now. As Executive Director Business market I have a special interest in IoT. This evolution is changing our daily life in ways many of us cannot comprehend, especially in combination with trends like big data and artificial intelligence. I find it impressive to see how techniques can better the world, and therefore I want to witness every second of these extraordinary developments. I would like to urge you to consider how you can improve your business processes or create new business models. We are open to cooperation with the various parties in the IoT's value chain. 

Smart cities
Vodafone makes every effort with many parties to transform Dutch cities into 'smart cities'. In these cities lights are automatically switched off as soon as the last employees leave the building. Motorists receive tips through their navigation system for more efficient and environment-conscious driving. Street lighting is also made 'smart'. Using IoT we make these cities more sustainable, safer and more efficient.

Better network
To enable the next step in these smart machines, an even better network is needed. That is why Vodafone introduces 'NB-IoT'. It sounds like a robot from Star Wars, but it is much more than that. NB-Iot is a so-called Low Power Wide Area technique that connects things to the internet more efficiently. It will be a network with national coverage, going live this summer, with the first pilots already on their way.

Walls and dikes
This new 4G-based network has the added advantage that the signal easily penetrates thick walls or even dikes. Battery life of the sensors is also substantially extended by this technique. It results in numerous new possibilities, like flood control or combatting energy wastage. It is therefore only logical that NB-Iot as the future standard, draws a lot of attention at big events like the Mobile World congress in Barcelona. 

Market leader
Vodafone is a proud frontrunner in this digital development. We have to uphold our reputation as market leader in this field, not only in the Netherlands but also internationally. The goal is to have a Vodafone NB-IoT network with worldwide coverage in 2020. Together with Germany, Spain and Ireland we are the frontrunners. Now that we have merged with Ziggo, new possibilities have come up with our fixed network and the Wi-Fi proposition in combination with 'smart homes'.

We unite people, households, business and cities in our vision on tomorrow's world. Are you ready for the future?

John van Vianen, Executive Director Business market VodafoneZiggo