ZiFiSense has reached an agreement with ZXIC, a subsidiary of ZTE and a leading developer of LTE chipsets, which will see both companies working together in 2017 to develop a dual-mode chipsets for IoT that provides LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) connectivity in both licensed (using NB-IOT) and unlicensed (using ZETA) spectrum.

The two companies will demonstrate the Proof of Concept of the new product at MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2017 in Barcelona, which is expected to go into mass production at Q3 2017.

The industry has had expected a large scale deployment of NB-IOT, the cellular IoT standard that has been endorsed by the 3GPP, to happen in 2017. However, some operators are more conservative, citing cost of deployment and uncertainty of return on investment.

Both ZXIC and ZiFiSense expect the NB-IoT/ZETA dual-mode chipset, to help operators to quickly expand their LPWAN signal coverage at minimal cost. The device can be configured as a tiny cell of IoT coverage using NB-IoT as backhaul connectivity, which can be utillized to aggregate messages from sensors over unlicensed spectrum and jumping through multiple hops if necessary, using the ZETA protocol.

New business models and revenue opportunities may be introduced with the concept of a hybrid licensed/unlicensed IoT network, which means the "things" that would traditionally only get connected using unlicensed spectrum can now afford operators'service offerings by sharing a single NB-IoT connection and its tariff bundle.