Narrowband IT is a relatively new low-power wide-area technology that is being developed to enhance the implementation of IoT.
Narrowband IoT, which is commonly abbreviated as NB-IoT, is a relatively new Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWA) that is specially designed for the Internet of Things devices that need small amounts of data over extended periods and indoor coverage. Technology experts predict that at least 26 billion small devices will be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. Although this statistic may sound exciting, the biggest challenge will be to provide a continuous and seamless connection through wireless networks that will support all these devices. The Narrowband IoT comes in as the best Low-Power Wide-Area Network connection option.
Typically, every network is developed to fulfill specific requirements. This is the primary reason why we have a multitude of different technologies which are continually upgraded to meet the evolving needs. However, we require highly available and reliable data transfer in real-time for critical machine-to-machine communication such as the complex systems used in self-driving cars.
Although the LTE technology can perform this task, it will reach a point when the LTE technology will no longer be able to serve the over 26 billion devices, hence the need for a 5G network that offers lower latency. This is achieved through local-area networks and wide-area networks. For a long time, there has been no solution for sending and receiving small data quantities over longer distances at a relatively low cost. The Narrowband IoT comes in to solve this problem.
What Is Low Power Wide Area Technology (LPWA)?
The LPWA was developed to fill the gap between mobile networks and short-range wireless networks such as WIFI and Bluetooth. The LPWA technology is specially designed for critical machine communications providing connectivity for various devices and applications that require low levels of data transfer and low mobility. The Low-Power Wide-Area technologies will be vital to the development of the Internet of Things.
Although it is based on the LTE technology, the NB-IoT is not designed for communication between people but only between machines. Therefore, certain services of the LTE technology such as SMS and voice functions are unnecessary. The primary purpose of NB-IoT is to send low data quantities over larger intervals dispensing critical services such as carrier aggregation, dual connectivity, and handover support. The technology is much cheaper since it has lower hardware requirements. For instance, you only require a single antenna to facilitate communication.
What Are Some of the Benefits of NB-IoT?
Some of the leading telecommunication giants such as Qualcomm, Huawei, Vodafone, and Ericson are actively involved in designing the NB-IoT standards. In fact, Vodafone has already rolled out NB-IOT in Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. So, what are some of the benefits of these technologies?
- Low consumption power: Almost all IoT technologies save a lot of energy when they are operating as they all hibernate at the same time. Technologies with a simpler waveform such as NB-IoT tend to have a better power consumption rate even when the modem is running, which extends its battery life.
- The NB-IoT can handle broader coverages: Unlike the LTE-M1 technology, the NB-IoT can send signals over a wider coverage since the bitrates are less. This makes the link budget better.
- Improved reliability: Rolling out the NB-IoT technology will translate to improved reliability for users and will also guarantee a supply of necessary resources needed for managed quality of service.
A high level of security also characterizes NB-IoT technology. The technologies use advanced and globally recognized and standardized LTE security functions from network monitoring and filtering to device authentication.