Up-to-date coverage information for NB-IoT and Cat-M

Is it possible to give an actual an regularly updated overview of NB-IoT and Cat-M coverage in every country?

I live in the Netherlands, and I looked here (https://hologram.io/pricing/coverage/). This information suggests that NB-IoT AND Cat-M are available (dark blue mark) or is NB-IoT OR Cat-M meant? I am almost certain that I can not use NB-Iot with Hologram in The Netherlands. I do know that T-Mobile and Vodafone offer NB-IoT using their sim cards. Is it possible to use either NB-IoT network in The Netherlands with a Hologram sim?

No the blue “LTE” means “standard” LTE like Cat-1, 2, 4, 6, etc. Hologram will list Cat-M1 and NB-IOT seperately if supported. Check out the USA for an example of Hologram showing support for Cat-M1.

The best way I found to try and verify coverage is to look at: https://www.gsma.com/iot/deployment-map/ and note what IoT technology and carriers are listed. From there look at Holograms coverage that you found and if the carrier is listed then Hologram simcards may work. Note at this time Hologram does not support NB-IOT anywhere (except some beta testing in USA).

So for example, it looks like Vodafone and KPN show up on the gsma link for netherlands as supporting Cat-M. Similarly Vodafone and KPN are listed as supported carriers by hologram in netherlands. Therefore It is likely that hologram would work with Cat-M on one of those carriers BUT not guaranteed.

As an example I have had success with Cat-M1 with Telstra in Australia although it is not listed as Cat-M1 supported by Hologram.

Unfortunately the only way to know for sure is to try it.

@AndrewGifft Thnx for your clear answers. I want to use NB-IoT , not Cat-M, so no support from Hologram yet. Do you have any idea for the timeline?

Unfortunately no, I’m just a Hologram customer so I don’t have insight into their internal negotiations. My understanding is NB-IOT is “harder” to roam for some reason, I am guessing because of less mature technology so virtual network operators like Hologram are unable to use the tech and the only way to get NB-IOT is to get NB-IOT enabled simcards from a specific carrier. Using carrier sims will get you NB-IOT but you will lose the ability to roam which Hologram offers (and is a big plus for many applications).

So unfortunately since NB-IOT is imature your choices are either to lock into one carrier in one country using NB-IOT or get more flexibility on carrier / technology using an MVNO like Hologram but limited to “mature” or legacy technology like Cat-1, Cat-M1 (maybe), 2G/3G

@AndrewGifft Thnx again Andrew!
IMHO NB-IoT is not more difficult, as I understand it is a software upgrade using the same hardware in the network.
I tried T-Mobile, they use a Connected Device Platform (CDP), so a device can not make a direct connection to a public IP address. The CDP can forward a JSON with payload to a HTTPS REST API. The device sends data to the CDP using either UDP or CoAP. I also tried Vodafone, they support UDP to my public IP, that had to be whitelisted. Both providers support only device initiated connections. I think these limitations are for security reasons, as there is no intrinsic technical reason for it. Maybe it is more difficult to accomodate MVNO solutions because of this limitations. Also every provider uses a non-standardized solution for this, which might be another barrier.

Client side, the hardware is similar, tower side (for the network operators) Cat-M1 is a software upgrade, NB-IOT requires hardware or at least low level firmware changes as it uses the guard bands (in most implementations), uses much narrower band channels than standard LTE including Cat-M1 + other difficulties above my head.

Also everything in your 2nd paragraph (about CDP) is much higher OSI level than where the difficulties with NB-IOT lie. In general there must be reason essentially all carriers block MVNO’s from using NB-IOT but not Cat-M1 (not just Hologram but all MVNOs I have researched although if you find an exception please let us know). Surely Hologram would do whatever is needed (besides pay $$$$$) to allow NB-IOT but if AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Telstra, etc. just say “NO”, there is nothing the MVNO’s can do regardless of the reason.

My assumption is that the physical carriers want to maintain more control over NB-IOT because of the differences and less comfort to ensure quality before they open up to a broader market.

This is all conjecture of course

I think you are right. It would be nice though if the physical providers take the same route for NB-IoT as they did for Cat-M.