NB-IoT: What is it and what can it do?

NB-IoT stands for NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT). This is a radio standard that is specifically intended for the Internet of Things (IoT).

NB-IoT: Networking for the Internet of Things

NB-IoT is a radio standard based on existing mobile networks that networks end devices in the Internet of Things. The new radio technology is ideal for IoT applications that only need to transmit smaller amounts of data from time to time. It is a so-called Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology with very low energy requirements as well as high building penetration. This means that due to the large range, a good connection is possible even in (underground) basements, garages or other buildings with many obstacles for radio waves.

LPWA (Low-Power Wide-Area) networks are the right choice especially for such IoT use cases where energy consumption, building penetration, battery life and especially cost are relevant. In addition to narrowband IoT, LTE for Machine Type Communication (LTE-M) mobile technology can also be considered for such IoT applications.

A large number of IoT devices only send small amounts of data now and then. In such cases, NB-IoT is ideal. Simplified radio modules, which are limited to necessary functions, make the network standard inexpensive and power-saving. This makes NB-IoT a pioneer of IoT in many areas where networking was previously too expensive and complex.

Advantages of Narrowband IoT at a glance

Low energy consumption

Both NB-IoT and LTE-M chipsets focus on radio characteristics and power saving features (e.g. sleep mode, Long-Periodic Tracking Area Updates and Extended Discontinuous Reception), ensuring optimal energy efficiency.

Low costs

NB-IoT as well as LTE-M convince with low operating and service prices as well as favourable module costs. This is made possible by the chipset design, in which unneeded LTE functions have been dispensed with, and the overall increase in production volumes.

Better network coverage in buildings

Compared to GSM, NB-IoT and LTE-M have up to 20 decibels (NB-IoT) and 15 decibels (LTE-M) higher power density. This is achieved via narrowband modulation methods and multiple transmission repetitions.

Easy installation

NB-IoT as well as LTE-M work very simply via Plug & Play. Without installing local networks or gateways, sensors can be connected directly to the NB-IoT and/or LTE-M network.

Security & Standardization

NB-IoT and LTE-M are globally standardised technologies. Both networks use LTE security mechanisms according to 3GPP, and security functions are constantly being reviewed and improved.

LTE basic technology

NB-IoT and LTE-M are both based on LTE technology and can therefore be easily integrated into existing LTE infrastructures via software upgrade.