Industrial IoT’s unique, low-power, low bandwidth requirements have led to the development of cellular network families series such as LPWAN and NB-IoT that are the primary means of connecting these devices to central servers.
These networks are designed mainly for IoT devices’ needs, which are not addressed adequately by either cellular networks, which offer high bandwidths at the expense of power consumption and protocols such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which are not scalable.
NarrowBand-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a standards-based low power wide area (LPWA) technology, that doesn’t operate in the licensed LTE framework. It either works independently, in unused 200-kHz GSM bands or on LTE base stations allocating a resource block to NB-IoT operations.
What are the advantages of NB-IoT?
NB-IoT technology with simpler waveform and a 200 kHz NB-IoT frontend and digitizer offers reduced conversion complexity, buffering, and channel estimation. This efficiency in turn, minimizes power consumption enabling a battery life of more than 10 years and cost savings.
Rolling out NB-IoT on a licensed spectrum means improved reliability for users. The underlying technology is less complex than traditional cellular modules, which simplifies design, development, and deployment for OEMs. What is more, it offers the same tried security and privacy features of LTE-M networks.
Compared to LTE-M1, NB-IoT has lower bitrates and better link budgets. New physical layer signals and channels are engineered to meet the demanding requirement of extended coverage, rural and deep indoors. NB-IoT penetrates deep underground and into enclosed spaces providing 20+dB coverage indoors.
While billions are invested into LTE networks, there are still many areas around the world with less LTE-M networks, even though network rollouts are going-on. There are larger GSM deployments, where unused bands can be utilised to leverage for NB-IoT. This increases the possibility of affordable NB-IoT deployments globally. Supported by all major mobile equipment, and module producers, NB-IoT can co-exist with 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks.
NB-IoT Use Cases
- Smart metering
- Facility management
- Security applications
- Asset tracking
- Smart city infrastructures
- Connected industrial appliances such as welding machines or air compressors.