Narrow Band-IoT - a new standardized cellular technology optimized to enable the Internet of Things

Wind energy

To date, many IoT applications have lacked a cellular technology for the “simple” things that is inexpensive, yet provides wide coverage, deep indoor penetration and long battery life. Narrow Band-IoT (NB-IoT) will bridge this gap. In a multi-part series, we will explain exactly how NB-IoT works and when and how the technology can be used.

For M2M solutions in the smart home, short-range wireless technologies like WLAN or Bluetooth might be used. In a smart factory, fixed-line connections such as industrial Ethernet or LAN connect machines over relatively short distances. 2G, 3G, 4G and, soon, 5G mobile networks are the technology of choice wherever large amounts of data are involved, swift responses are required, or a highly available network is needed, such as for remote control of machines, for autonomous cars or to monitor traffic or wind turbines.

NB-IoT as a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) technology

NB-IoT as a LPWA technology addresses the ultra-low-end M2M/IoT sector, a mass market, which cannot be efficiently served by existing cellular technologies, as they cannot adequately meet the low data amounts, low power consumption and low cost requirements. Furthermore, this technology has an improved link budget of 20 decibel compared to GSM, allowing for deep indoor penetration, and battery life may be extended massively. Standardized and operating in licensed band, NB-IoT ensures security, stability and reliability for our customers in the future. 

NB-IoT for the ultra-low-end IoT market

Many M2M applications generate much smaller amounts of data and do so infrequently with high latency. Yet, this data has to be transmitted over long distances in many use cases such as high value goods tracking and remote gas or water meter reading. There are use cases that require M2M modules that need to function autonomously over long periods of time with extremely low energy consumption and far away from the nearest mobile network mast. If that is the case, deep indoor penetration, strong propagation and long battery life are important. This applies to places that are hard to access such as pipelines or channels. What all these use cases have in common is, that they require low costs for a massive amount of devices.

Successful test in the Telekom network

Standardization of Narrow Band-IoT has already made significant progress, and Deutsche Telekom is able to influence ongoing developments as a member of the 3GPP initiative. In the fall of 2015, Telekom and the Chinese network supplier Huawei successfully achieved the world’s first implementation of pre-standard NB-IoT on commercial network elements by software upgrade only with a smart parking guidance system. If standardization is agreed on in the course of this year and further trials are successful, first commercial applications are expected to emerge from 2017 onwards.

Tags: nb-iot , narrow band iot , low power wide area , LPWA , low power wide area networks , Internet of Things , Machine-to-Machine , M2M , IOT , 5G

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