Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), also known as LTE Cat NB1, is about to connect billions of devices in a smarter way. It’s cost-efficient, supports lower-power consumption to use low-cost devices, and provides a wide range of coverage. This low power wide area (LPWA) technology is making economies of scale a valid theory for the IoT industry; it connects virtually anywhere and works with already established mobile networks. One of the main requirements to achieve new applications is to deploy a radio-access network that can lower battery usage, cover a wide area, efficiently power low-cost devices, and match different spectrum allocations of operators.
Massive devices usually work with small amounts of data and are commonly located in challenging places for signals to reach, such as forests, farms, or basements. Processes for detecting and reporting different variables like temperature and humidity need to be optimized. For sensor-heavy applications, data rate and latency should be lower. NB-IoT is a solution that can match these requirements, and is expected to bring greater efficiency. NB-IoT devices have shown they can support lower peak physical layer data rates.
The benefits of NB-IoT devices include: low power consumption, simplified deployment into existing cellular network architecture, extended indoor and outdoor range, reliable connectivity, security supported by two-way authentication and strong interface encryption, support for more than 100,000 connections per cell, lower component cost, a large number of connected devices, and optimized data transfer. With NB-IoT connectivity, industries will be much more automated, efficient, and productive. For example, this technology will make it easier to locate and monitor key inventory, to optimize logistics, and to enable real-time monitoring and predictive diagnostics of assets. Below are additional NB-IoT applications: [1,2]
- Smart Buildings: You can manage intruder and fire alarms for homes and commercial properties; smart metering; intelligent illumination and thermal comfort; air quality; physical security with low cost and less environmental impact.
- Smart Cities: NB-IoT devices can be used by cities to control and monitor street lighting, free parking spaces, and environmental conditions. This technology provides broadband connection and more security by connecting sensors directly to the monitoring system using LPWA networks.
- Smart Farms: With the expanse of NB-IoT, appears a wide variety of agriculture and ranching intelligent solutions, to achieve an autonomous connected farm: more precision in agricultural techniques; soil and atmospheric sensing; livestock tracking; monitor land, pollution, rain, etc.
- Smart Homes: Smart NB-IoT electricity, water, and gas meters tend to appear in difficult locations, like remote rural places or underground. NB-IoT is well prepared for these types of environments since it provides regular and small data transmission.
- Smart Hospitals: NB-IoT connectivity will offer the possibility of closely monitoring patients who are suffering from chronic or age-related conditions. A wearable device will enable the doctors to monitor their patients from a distance and in real-time.
NB-IoT Device Data Ranges
Site density and link budget are the main factors that affect mobile network coverage. Longevity depends on how efficiently devices can turn to sleep modes that allow some parts of the battery to be turned down when not needed. NB-IoT technology supports a range of data rates based on the channel quality, or the signal-to-noise ratio and the bandwidth in certain areas. Each NB-IoT device has a specific power budget, which leads to combining the power of several devices. Devices are sometimes affected by signal strength rather than bandwidth.
These devices can focus on transmission energy without losing performance to a narrower bandwidth, which frees up bandwidth for other devices. it’s possible to increase data rates by adding more bandwidth in both good and bad coverage areas. Good performance often occurs when NB-IoT devices are deployed on dense grids or located inside the original LTE coverage area.
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