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Understanding Narrowband IoT

Understanding Narrowband IoT

New IoT applications thanks to two Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies are revolutionizing the IoT industry. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE Machine Type Communication (LTE-M) are two network technologies that carry data at slower rates than Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 5G (5G). However, these are highly suited for a variety of IoT applications, in particular, Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications, due to their low cost, high capacity, low power consumption, and wide coverage. 

ABI Research predicts that by 2026, NB-IoT and LTE-M will account for more than 60% of the 3.6 billion connections to LPWAN networks worldwide. Over 80% of the non-cellular LPWAN network connections will be made using LoRa and Sigfox, which will make up the remaining 40% of the market. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of NB-IoT connection for industrial applications.

What is NB-IoT?

Narrowband IoT, often known as NB-IoT, is a wireless communication standard for the Internet of Things in its various iterations. As a member of the LPWAN family of low-power wide-area networks, NB-IoT enables the connection of gadgets with modest data requirements, low bandwidth, and extended battery life. This makes it appropriate for a range of IoT use cases and applications.

How does NB-IoT work?

Low bandwidth signals are used by NB-IoT technology to communicate inside the framework of GSM and LTE. The fundamental elements of NB-IoT systems are specially constructed gadgets and sensors. These gadgets gather data from their environment and send it to base stations or transmission nodes that support NB-IoT. For centralized monitoring and data processing, each base station is connected to an IoT gateway and IoT cloud application servers.

While enabling relatively simple devices, NB-IoT uses a new physical layer with signals and channels to satisfy the demands of wide coverage in remote locations and deep interiors. Comparatively speaking, the fundamental technology of GSM/GPRS modules is substantially simpler.

Benefits of NB-IoT

NB-IoT is one of the most adaptable networks, operating in 2G, 3G, and 4G bands. This is because IoT devices can be connected to the network without the use of a gateway. Additionally, this reduces costs and makes the network more economical. NB-IoT is a scalable network because it can establish connections for millions of devices. Some other benefits of NB-IoT networks are listed below.

Less expensive

NB-IoT employs half-duplex communications, which means that either the module or the cellular base station transmits data, but not both. This usage of half-duplex communications, along with NB-IoT's lower data rates, use of a single antenna, and lower Radio Frequency (RF) bandwidth, minimize the complexity and consequently the cost of NB-IoT devices. 

Lesser Power Consumption

Power consumption is reduced by up to 75% when compared to standard LTE CAT-1 modules when using NB-IoT. This happens because of the potential of NB-IoT to optimize the amount of energy used for tiny data transmissions. The technology enables developers of IoT applications to create gadgets that can run on battery power for ten or more years.

Better Capacity

More capacity is offered by NB-IoT, which can link up to one million NB-IoT devices per square kilometer to the network thanks to its usage of narrowband transmission, signaling optimization, adaptive modulation, and Hybrid Automatic Repeat Request (HARQ).

Better Coverage

Large signal repetition is used in NB-IoT. Large signal repetition enhances NB-IoT's coverage by 5–10X over the competition, but it lowers data throughput and increases power consumption. Because of this improved coverage, NB-IoT devices can connect to cellular networks even if they are deep inside a building, in a remote rural area, or even underground.

Example of NB-IoT Applications

NBIoT Application

NB-IoT is better suited for static assets, such as meters and sensors in a fixed position. NB-IoT is relevant to many services, including fleet management, facility management, smart metering, fire alarms, intruder warning systems in buildings, health management systems, human monitoring systems, smart devices utilized in industries, and smart city infrastructures, among others. Since most of these smart systems or devices operate in fixed locations, NB-IoT is the solution that works best for all of these applications.

More About NB-IoT Module

NB-IoT and LTE-M are the two solutions being pushed by service providers, and network operators. Mostly because it makes sense from a cellular standpoint. However, in practice, you will mostly see comparisons between these two technologies. Unlike LTE-M, NB-IoT does not fully support mobility (LTE-M also supports voice). Although there have been changes since 3GPP Release 13. Despite that NB-IoT network could be a better bet for your static asset. Because NB-IoT uses a narrowband (or, to be more accurate, a narrower bandwidth and a single narrow band of 200KHz or 180KHz), it allows for a higher transmission power density, which, combined with other coverage augmentation features, improves indoor penetration and reach. 

However, it’s worth noting that as mobile network operators roll out their NB-IoT networks more often, they also begin inter-carrier roaming agreements. With new releases, the network will essentially evolve into a more pragmatic solution for enterprises dappling in static as well as mobile assets. It’s important for businesses to understand and tap into this spurt of networks. According to the November 2019 Ericsson Mobility Report, massive IoT is predicted to have the largest growth in cellular IoT connections, with NB-IoT and LTE-M expected to account for more than half of all cellular IoT connections by the end of 2025.

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