NB-IoT Technology(Narrowband IoT): The Definitive Guide 2022

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NB-IoT refers to the IoT technology of NarrowBand. NB-IoT, a new worldwide-used technology, mainly targets at IoT market of Low Power & Wide Coverage((LPWAN). When it comes to the introduction of NB-IoT, it is important to look at the history of communication evolution through the continuous development of 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, coupled with the widespread popularity of smartphones and simplified instant transmission (voice, pictures, HD video) between people. This article will give you a deep and complete explanation of NB technology!

1. What is NB-IoT Technology?

what is NB-IoT

What is NB-IoT communication? The differences between Nb-IoT and mobile communications (2/3/4/5G) and their features

1. Wide Coverage. Different from the traditional GSM, a base station can support 10 times of area coverage.

An NB-IoT base station is able to have 10km coverage, even in a small county. Meanwhile, NB-IoT has gained 20Db more than the LTE and GPRS base stations. In addition, NB-IoT can also send signals to places such as garages below grounds, basements, pipes under the surface, etc. Normally, it is not possible to get calls underground. However, with NB-IoT you can still call someone!

2. Mass Connection. 200KHz frequency can offer 100,000 connections

The more connections are provided, the fewer base stations are built. The fewer base stations are built, the more money is saved! One teacher can teach 200 students at a time and another teacher can teach 20 students. Therefore, if they both teach 1,000 students, you can only need to hire 5 teachers with 200 students but 50 teachers with 20 students.

3. Low Power Consumption, the usage of AA batteries (No. 5 battery) allows NB-IoT to work for ten years without any charges

No charge for ten years! You’re not kidding me, are you? My phone has to be charged each day! The NB-IoT is introduced with eDRX power-conservation technology and PSM power-conservation mode to lower power consumption and prolong battery life. Under the PSM mode, the terminal is still available on the network while the signal is unreachable, which makes the terminal enter sleep mode for an extended time to achieve the intention of consuming less power. eDRX power-conservation technology prolongs the sleeping cycle of the terminal in idle mode and decreases the non-necessary start-ups of the received units. Also, it greatly enhances downlink accessibility, which is different from PSM.

What is an eDRX

What is an eDRX

DRX (Discontinuous Reception) refers to discontinuous reception while EDRX is extended discontinuous reception.

Example of EDRX /PSM Power Consumption

As shown in the figure, DRX means a way that is not continuous to receive signals and rest for most of the time. For instance, continuous reception is a security guard who needs to stay at his job all day with his eyes seriously staring at the door to see if there is anything abnormal. Discontinuous reception means the security guard only spends ten minutes watching the door for one hour and having a tea break for the rest hours.

Power Saving Mode (PSM) is equal to Power Saving Mode. Most IoT terminals have been free most of the time. They only need to read the meter and then issue a watch. After that, they just have rested, meaning the device enters a dormant state.

In conclusion, the power-conservation function of NB-IoT serves as a security guard who takes a fifty-minute tea rest in one hour. That is to say, he only has three working hours a day and then takes breaks the rest of the time.

4. Simplified Mobility. In contrast to our mobile phones, which show bad signals on cars or high-speed trains for the reason that the speed of cars or trains is so fast that the mobile phone constantly switches base stations. It is like a relay racet. A good relaying with batons represents a normal call while the missed baton equals the intermittent or even dropped cal.

In most scenarios, using NB-Io for IoT terminals is static. For example, you can conduct an intelligent meter- reading which can reduce protocol complexity and module cost also.

5. Half Duplex Mode

It means I’m talking and you must listen and never interrupt! Vice versa.

2. How Does the NB-IoT Technology Work?

Operation Principle of NB-IoT Technology

NB-IoT stands for the IoT tech of Narrowband. NB-IoT, a new worldwide-used technology, mainly targets at IoT market of Low Power & Wide Coverage((LPWAN).

NB-IoT utilizes License frequency bands. It is applied in three channels to exist within the network, including in-band, protected band and independent carriers.

Nb-IoT is revised on the basis of FDD LTE technology. A large part of the physical layer designs adopts LTE systematic technology like SC-FDMA used for uplink and OFDM for downlink. The high-level design of the protocol abides by the LTE protocols with its features of a tiny packet, low power consumption and large connectivity enhanced. Part of the core network is connected through the S1 interface and provides support for independent and upgrade deployment.

Terminal: User Equipment (UE), connected to base stations (eNodeB (evolved Node B, E-Utran base stations) through airports.

Wireless network: it includes two types of networking models. The first one is the integral wireless network(Singel RAN), which contains 2G/3G/4G and NB-IoT wireless network, and the other is the New NB-IoT network, which largely undertakes access processing of airports, cell management, and other relevant roles. It then creates a connection to the IoT core network across S1-Lite interfaces, forwarding non-access layer data to high-level network elements.

Core network: EPC – Evolved Packet Core (EPC) is in charge of interacting with non-access layers of terminals and forwards data related to IoT services to the IoT platform. The summary is not extensive, see the following info.

Platform: mainly telecom platform

Application server: Take the telecom platform as a case. The application server forms communication with the platform over HTTP or HTTPS and controls the device by invoking the platform’s open API. The platform dispatches the data from the device to the server. The platform analyzes device data and then converts those data to standard JSON format.

Three Working Conditions of NB-IoT

Under the default state, there are three types of working conditions of NB-IoT and the three states are shifted on the basis of different configuration parameters. I believe that these states exert great influence on the traits of NB-IoT. That is why it features. What’s more, when using NB-IoT and designing related programs in the future, it is necessary to customize the three working states according to the development demands and product features.

Below are the three working states:

Connected

It can send and get data after the registration of the module and the connected state finish. After a period of no data interaction, it will enter Idle mode for a configurable time.

Idle

It can send and receive data and go to the Connected state while collecting downlink data. Interaction without data for some time makes it transit to PSM mode for a configurable time.

PSM (Power Saving Mode)

In this mode, the terminal closes the signal transceiver and doesn’t monitor the paging on the wireless mode. Therefore, the terminal is still connected to the network, but the signal cannot cover or be reached, which leads to no access to downlink data and results in low power consumption.

The time scale is under the configuration of the core network (T3412). When there is uplink data needed to be transferred or the TAU cycle ends, it enters the Connected state.

The general transition process of the three NB-IoT operating states can be summarized as follows:

(1) When the terminal finishes sending data, it is in the Connected state and starts the “Inactivity timer”, which has a 20s setting by default as well as can be configured from 1 second to 3600 seconds;

② When the “inactive Timer” expires in terms of time, the terminal changes to the Idle condition, and then the active-timer T3324 operates. The timeout period is configured ranging from 2s to 186 mins.

③ When the active timer expires in terms of time, the terminal goes into the PSM condition. When TAU time cycle ends, it enters the Connected state. The TAU time scale [T3412] is configured from 54 mins to 310 hrs.

[PS: TAU time cycle stands for the period starting from Idle mode to the end of PSM mode]

NB-IoT Terminals Analysis in different working situations

1. During the process of sending data, NB-LoT is in active condition. Then it changes to the idle condition after the expiration of timeout under the configuration of the “inactivity counter”.

2. The eDRX mechanism is introduced When the terminal is in the Idle state. A complete Idle process contains a number of eDRX cycles, which can be configured through timers with the time ranging from 20.48s to 2.92 hrs. Also, every eDRX cycle covers some DRX paging cycles;

3. A pager time window (PTW) consists of some DRX paging cycles. The pager time window can be set by timer, ranging from 2.56s to 40.96s, and the value determines the window size and the number of pager times. A paging time window(PTW), which can be set through the timer, is consisted of a number of DRX paging cycles. The time is configured from 20.48s to 40.96s. The time selected determines the scale of the time window and the amount;

4. After the Active Timer exceeds the set time, the NB-IoT terminal changes from the idle condition to the PSM condition, from which the terminal doesn’t conduct paging or obtain downlink data. Then it goes to the sleep state.

5. The TAU timer begins calculating the time when the terminal goes to the idle condition. When the timer expires, the terminal will leave the PSM state and operates TAU to go back to the activated state (see ① in the figure)

6. The terminal can also be back to the activated state through actively sending uplink data when it operates in the PSM state.

3. NB-IoT VS LoRa Technologies

NB-IoT VS LoRa Technologies

LPWA, a wireless communication technology, embraces mainstream technologies, including NB-IoT, eMTC, Sigfox, and LoRa technologies. NB-IoT is developed by 3GPP, the most authoritative standardization organization in the communication industry, and approved by ITU, an international standard. Sigfox of France and Semtech of the U.S. own the core technologies of Sigfox and LoRa respectively.

The current development of NB-IoT and LoRa: LPWA technology is mainly aimed at text-based services that are suitable for IoT application cases featuring low-speed rate, low power consumption, wide coverage and large connectivity. Currently, two major technology camps, NB-IoT and LoRa have formed in China. More national policies are introduced to greatly promote NB-IoT and have a wait-and-see attitude towards LoRa. At present, the LPWA technology application in China is still conducted through experiments and promotion. NB-IoT as well as LoRa mainly focus their eyes on smart meters, smart buildings and other application scenarios, which are mostly similar.

Competitiveness of NB-IoT & LoRa: NB-IoT is more suitable for applications with heavy data volume and frequent communication which is in contrast to LoRa. Belonging to carrier networks, NB-IoT is more fitting to decentralized application scenarios with wide geographical distribution and mobile attributes, while LoRa can achieve flexible deployment to better meet the needs of industrial applications with more centralized terminals. Because of different design thinking and implementation methods, wireless communication technologies differ in characteristics. Therefore, it is necessary to choose appropriate communication technologies according to specific application cases when deploying the networks.

Development trends of NB IoT and LoRa technologies for IoT: In terms of the application scenario demand, it is expected that the domestic NB-IoT and LoRa will tend to be divided into 6:4 by 2025. NB-IoT has a shorter development cycle, product instability, narrow network coverage, and low coverage, compared to LoRa. It is expected that two more years are needed for technological advancement and network optimization to fully bring its advantages into play. During this period, the relatively advanced LoRa are encouraged to shift to more application areas by the market demand.

4. Comparison between NB-IoT and LTE-M Technologies

NB-IoT vs LTE-M Technologies

LTE-M(Long Term Evolution of Machines) and NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things)  both belong to low-power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) that transmit data at rates lower than LTE and 5G NR. However, with the features, low cost, high capacity, low power consumption and wide coverage, they are ideal for a wide range of IoT applications and are capable of connecting devices that are in need of small amounts of data, low bandwidth, and long battery life.

Delay in Performance

The advantages of NB-IoT technology include low power consumption and high reliability for covering challenging areas. Compared to LTE-M, NB-IoT is not well suited for circumstances that require extra low network latency. NB-IoT latency is usually equivalent to or less than 10s (around 1.6 to 10s), while LTE-M usually has latency ranging from 100 to 150 milliseconds.

Device Mobility

Different from LTE-M, NB-IoT does not offer great support for mobility (LTE-M technology also has a voice-supported function). This means that the NB-iot can also be used for mobile assets and devices that we sometimes hear about but just time-limited. Cases involve real-time NB-IoT applications with trackers, bike-sharing applications, environment applications with mobile components but low throughput, intelligent logistics, etc. Generally speaking, fixed assets, such as smart meters or point-of-sale terminals are typical but not unique areas for NB-IoT. It’s LTE-M that can achieve “true seamless mobility”.

Energy Efficiency

NB-IoT pays more attention to low energy and low power consumption than LTE-M.  Theoretically, NB-IoT provides over ten years of battery life.

Penetration

With the use of narrow bands (or narrower bandwidths or a single narrowband of 200KHz or 180KHz), it allows for increased transmission power density. Together with other coverage enhancement functions, NB-IoT has deeper penetration (and enhanced overall coverage) capability compared to LTE-M. LTE-M is also suited for indoor coverage but NB-IoT functions better. Technological information on coverage area and penetration or coverage: The NB-IoT has a loss of coupling up to 164 dB with a 20 dB better link budget compared to GPRS.

Although they are similar in many aspects, there are some crucial distinctions.

LTE-M can send data at a faster rate than that of NB-IoT together with lower latency (the time it spends for devices to build a connection to the network and send or collect information). These functions enable LTE-M to offer services like voice communications and data communications and also LoT applications that require more real-time communication, such as precise tracking or power grid monitoring. What’s more, LTE-M offers better performance than NB-IoT for mobile IoT applications despite the mobility upgrades found in Cat-NB2.

The faster speed of LTE-M also makes it more suited for data-intensive IoT applications. Also as a natural extension of 4G LTE, LTE-M gains from out-of-the-box roaming, i.e. the capability to utilize the network operator’s SIM card on other operators’ networks in foreign countries.

However, NB-IoT has more strengths compared to LTE-M. Although both of them offer better coverage than other technologies, many network operators have deployed NB-IoT networks with technology that provides the best coverage improvements while the technology in LTE-M networks offers only partial coverage improvements. The NB-IoT network covers more signals than LTE-M in warehouses, office buildings, and places under the ground where the loss of signal and several layer barriers brings about connection issues.

Because of these advantages, the NB-IoT becomes an excellent choice for IoT applications featuring simple, static, and extremely low data.

5. Why Choose NB-IoT Technology?

Why Choose NB-IoT Technology

Now the leading technology standard for the Internet of Things is NB-IoT. Main carriers have invested a lot in the standard, China Telecom in particular, which has taken the lead in NB-IoT applications. Similar to eMTC, NB-IoT has been a global standard, while the other two are private ones.

The biggest distinction between the two technologies is the spectrum, which serves as the most precious asset of an IoT connectivity standard. In simple words, a spectrum is the same as a legal parking lot, which LoRa inherently lacks.

Huawei has been advocating NB-IoT for many years and introduced the concept in 2015 in conjunction with Qualcomm, Vodafone, and other internationally renowned companies. Apart from Huawei, there are still many carriers showing their interest in NB-IoT.

Unlike LoRa, the NB-IoT network is an operator-built network by an enterprise independently. If you want the terminal to use NB-IoT, the NB-IoT network should be firstly used. In that way, operators will definitely promote the application of NB-IoT in an active manner.

Additionally, the government provides strong assistance for the development of NB-IoT. China has launched more relevant policies to support NB-IoT. For instance,  the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology officially issued the Notice on Comprehensively Promoting the Construction and Development of the Mobile Internet of Things on June 16, 2017. 14 initiatives are clearly stated in the Notice, which includes the comprehensive promotion of the construction and development of NB-IoT, the establishment of 1.5 million NB-IoT base stations, and the development of more than 600 million NB-IoT connections by 2020.

With the support of the government, NB-IoT is bound to be popular in China under the active support of China operators and the strong advocate of Huawei.

Strengths of NBIoT

Currently, the standards have been frozen, and in China, the standards have been commercially used on a large scale. NB-IoT contains four major traits, namely, heavy coverage, low power consumption, large connectivity, and low cost.

1. The impact on society

With lower power consumption, a more simplified protocol, and a suitable design, NB-IoT greatly improves the standby time of terminals. It is said that for some NB terminals, the standby time is able to last for ten years.

2. Signal Coverage

NB-IoT has relatively excellent coverage capability (20dBof gains) and doesn’t affect signal reception even if it is buried under a manhole.

3. The Number of Connections

Each unit can support 50,000 terminals.

4. Cost

NB-IoT is even a highlight with extremely low cost of communication modules. Each module is expected to be priced at $5 or less, which facilitates widespread purchase and use. It can be concluded from Moore’s Law that the cost can be lowered to below $1 when it takes no more than forty months.

However, the impact of NB-IoT is not yet truly evident due to the current maturity of the industry. A few IoT products are only designed before the consideration of how to integrate NB-IoT, while revolutionary technology takes it into consideration when product design starts.

As a result, NB-IoT still faces dark moments before gaining an edge. While many people know that it is promising, it will not bring instant huge profits to those participants in the industry. To sum up, NB-IoT is a tech infrastructure that needs plenty of patience.

For most IoT practitioners, the Internet of Things, on the one hand, requires continuous attention, especially for the emergence of some key features; On the other hand, it is not necessary to have illusions about network IoT as networks serve both automation and customization. The network IoT will be utilized If there is a relevant need and the cost is suitable. Otherwise, it is a wise choice to wait for some time.

6. Advantages and disadvantages of NB-IoT Technology

Advantages and disadvantages of NB-IoT

The Internet of Things is penetrating our life at an extremely rapid pace. The safe and reliable transmission of data serves as the basis to achieve the interconnection among different things. In most cases, 3G, 4G, and GPRS skills are chosen to finish transmitting data, leading to high usage costs and influencing the popularity of IoT services. Therefore, NB- IoT skills are born to satisfy the market demand. The NB-IoT(Narrowband cellular Internet of Things) skill adopts the principles of ultra-narrowband, repetitive transmission and streamlined network protocols, and acquires the carrying capacity for low power and Wide WAN at the expense of sacrificing certain speed rate, time delay and mobile instinct.

Advantages of NB-IoT

Mass Access

With the same coverage conditions of base stations, NB-IoT technology is 50 to 100 times more accessible than other wireless technologies, and each sector can guarantee access to 100,000 terminals.

Low Power Consumption

In terms of battery-powered devices, low power consumption can greatly enhance the battery life of devices from months to years, thus considerably decreasing the frequency of changing batteries.

High Coverage

NB-IoT tech has 100 times the coverage capability of LTE. This can not only satisfy the requirements of large-scale coverage in sparsely populated regions but also fit for applications underground where deep coverage is required.

Low Cost

Because of selecting cellular network skills on the authorized frequency band,s the NB-IoT does not need to rebuild the network, and RF and antennas are basically reusable. Coupled with NB-IoT’s low power consumption, low bandwidth, and low rate, it also lowers chip and module costs.

Disadvantage of NB-IoT

Fewer Data Transfer

Based on its low power consumption, NB-IoT can only transfer fewer data.

High Communication Cost

Apart from the price of the NB-IoT communication module, the operator will also charge an operating fee.

Poor-developed Tech

Although NB-IoT technology is widely used, various kinds of failures often occur during practical applications, bringing about communication interruptions.

Docking platform problems

The IoT platform of telecom adopts CoPA protocol, which is complicated in terms of docking and often leads to a long construction time for incompatibility with traditional TCP, UDP communication, etc.

The above are the strengths and drawbacks of NB-IoT. NB-IoT is a newly-developed IoT technology that has appealed to many eyes due to its low power consumption, stable connectivity, low cost and good structure optimization. And as NB-IoT technology goes through more advanced development, it will emerge in more industries in the future.

7. NB-IoT Technology Application Cases

NB-IoT Technology Application Cases

Being one kind of IoTs technology, NB-IoT is considered to bring a great boost, even a transforming effect, to the growth of the whole IoTs industry.

This, in turn, will directly affect each of our lives – through a number of application cases shaped by NB-IoT tech.

Take smart home, smart manufacturing and smart city as examples:

Smart Home

NB-LoT technology can be operated in smart homes, wearable devices, children and elderly care, pet tracking, and other consumer electronics products to give hands to enterprises developing better business models and boost innovation in this area.

NB-LoT tech supports massive amounts of sensors, including the transformation of both large and small data volumes for information, which enables the realization of the portability of computing-capable devices, substantially conducive to the growth of the amount of devices accessing the IoT.

Smart Manufacturing

NB-IoT technology is mixed with industrial Internet and smart manufacturing to promote integration and innovation and realize the monitoring and flexible and intelligent control of manufacturing process so that industrial production, agricultural production, transportation and other fields gain benefits from the development of IoT, which in turn facilitates the further progress of IoT.

Smart City

Intelligent metering of water, electricity and gas, intelligent parking management, and information or intelligent environmental monitoring, from some areas, improve the city’s ability in public services and public management, and significantly reduce the cost of this process. To reduce costs, NB-IoT tech enhances the capability of cities to better the public service and management in all areas such as smart metering of water, electricity and gas, smart parking management, environmental monitoring informatization and intelligence.

NB-IoT and LTE technology increase the intelligence of urban lighting, transportation system, environmental monitoring and management. With its advantages in cost and transmission capacity, NB-LoT achieves the intelligence of information and environmental monitoring in certain public areas and promotes urban intelligence through the regular transmission of small data.

8. NB-IoT Solutions

NB-IoT technology Solutions

Parallel to the construction of the IoT platform, the number of companies specializing in the Internet of Things, especially NB-IoT solutions, increases rapidly. The enterprises out their eyes especially in sensing, meter reading, parking, logistics monitoring and other fields. It can be said that NB-IoT has become a pioneering tech in market exploration. Today, the author will analyze the characteristics of several famous NB-IoT solution providers in the market.

Solutions for the Internet of Vehicles

When it comes to the IoTs, one of the most essential parts that need attention is the Internet of Vehicles. Although some applications of the Internet of vehicles have high requirements over network connection speed, NB-IoT can still be used in the field of static transportation. In the NB-IoT smart parking scheme with the participation of Fanger Technology and China Unicom, the latest geomagnetic vehicle detection technology and wireless data transmission technology are applied, which not only reduces the production cost of equipment, but also does not require the laying of communication lines and power supply lines. In addition, it only requires less amount of installation, a short cycle of installation cycle, and high detection accuracy. In practical applications, in particular, equipped with the three-level induction screen, the intelligent parking project functions that the data collected will be released to the website, cell phone, display screen and other terminals in real-time, greatly solving the problems of facing difficulties like positioning parking location, inaccurate number, etc. Currently, with more and more vehicles emerging, NB-IoT tech will become a big tool to tackle the issues concerning parking,

Solutions for Smart Meter

The development in the field of smart meters cannot be achieved without the collaboration between Huawei, a global leader in wireless and positioning modules and chips, and one of the main contributors to the development of the NB-IoT technology (4.5 technology) standard. In June 2017 JANZ CE announced a new generation of smart computer technology to be piloted in Portugal. Compared to its predecessors, the latest generation of Smart Computer technology is upgraded to automatically detect damaged areas faster and reduce the time needed to restore service in the event of an accident; Also the technology improves the breadth, depth and accuracy of online detection data and optimizes the efficiency of power usage.

Smart Water Meter Solutions

As China’s first listed company with water meters as its main business, Sanchuan Wisdom is believed to be a leading company in the field of smart water meter solutions. Through smart water meter manufacturing, water big data and other services, the company improves itself to become a company that offers one-stop industry chain services on water investment and operation, water-based environmental monitoring and management, R&D and sales of smart water appliances and family healthy drinking water services. In particular, relying on its special hood structure, it can still last 6 years on a single battery in a humid environment, which not only allows remote control but also greatly improves immediacy and lower management costs.

Smart Street Lightning Solutions

With the rise of smart cities, the concept of smart streetlights is gaining popularity in first- and second-tier cities. In Zhitron’s intelligent lighting management solution for streetlights, it integrates remote streetlight control, telemetry, remote control, intelligent warning, energy efficiency analysis, self-control, map display, asset management and other functions by combining NB-IoT features. Also, compared with traditional street lighting solutions, managers can also formulate strategies and develop optimal energy-efficiency control strategies based on real-time conditions because they have access to more information. With the expansion of the smart street light market and the upstream and downstream connection, smart street light in the future will integrate more sensors and undertakes more functions of network nodes.

Smart Positioning Solution

The biggest appeal of the “Internet of Everything” lies in the interconnection between objects and people. During the IoTs establishment processes, there are  needs for positioning everywhere. The biggest positioning market is the tracking and positioning of people. From children’s watches and pet tracking to the real-time whereabouts of firefighters, couriers and people awaiting bail, location trackers are increasingly affecting our lives. While Release 14 led by Oviphone Communications integrates the solution of base station positioning, which requires the network and terminal side support. Second, Release 14 of NB-IoT’s cell reselection better solves the fast roaming switching problem. The high bandwidth of NB-IoT’s Release 14 ensures faster real-time performance. When Ovodan launched the first NB-IoT-based smartwatch in 2015, it provided ODM or OEM services from product development to stable mass production and a flexible and complete solution of “terminal development + application server + mobile application terminal”, which is currently the global leader of NB-IoT in smart wear and It is the global leader in smart wear and tracker products.

Smart Logistics Solutions

Based on Huawei’s Ocean Connect IoT platform, the smart logistics solution is able to acquire data on logistics vehicles, cargo, personnel, nodes, routes, etc., and quickly provide smart logistics-related services to assist logistics companies or personnel, cargo owners, consignees, government regulators and the public, solving the problems of five-in-one physical flow and information flow efficient management, including “vehicle, people, cargo, connection mode and route”.

Therefore, a large number of market solutions have emerged to provide connected cars, smart utilities, smart cities, smart streetlights and other market solutions that require scale and homogeneous terminals, allowing us to see the huge potential of NB-IoT as an IoT communication technology. We believe that as the technology develops, the current NB-IoT solutions of various fields and companies will further integrate the upstream and downstream industries to achieve further development.

9. The History of NB-IoT Technology

The History of NB-IoT

In 2013, Vodafone and Huawei mobile joined hands to conduct scientific research on a new communication standard, which they initially called “NB-M2M (LTE for Machine to Machine)”.

In May 2017, 3GPP’s GERAN Institute created a new scientific research project named FS_IoT_LC, which is a key scientific study of new wireless communication access network system software and “NB-M2M” became one of the new project’s research components. Later, Qualcomm submitted the technical specification of “NB-OFDM” (Narrow Band Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing). (3GPP, “3rd GeneraTIon Partnership Project” standardization organization; TSG-GERAN (GSM/EDGE Radio Access Network): undertakes the establishment of technical standards for GSM/EDGE (development of technical standards for wireless network access networks).

In May 2016, the “NB-M2M” program and the “NB-OFDM” program were combined to become “NB-CIoT” (Narrow Band CellularIoT). The essential part of the combination of the scheme depends on the choice of the FDMA multiple access methods for communication and the OFDM multiple access methods for sliding.

In July 2016, Sony Ericsson, in collaboration with ZTE, Nokia and other enterprises, clearly put forward the technical specifications of “NB-LTE” (Narrow Band LTE).

In the 69th rural work conference of RAN# in September 2016, the executors of each plan combined the two technical specifications (” NB-IoT “and” NB-LTE “), and the 3GPP Project establishment was carried out for the unified specification after hot discussion and deliberation. The specification is a unified national standard called “NB-IoT (Narrow Band Internet of Things, based on the cellular Narrowband Internet of Things)”. Since then, “NB-M2M”, “NB-OFDM”, “NB-CIoT”, “NB-LTE ” all become history time.

In June 2017, the Key specification of the NB-IoT was set up as an Internet of Things Technology Specific Agreement in 3GPPL-13. In September, the SPECIFICATION of the NB-LoT features was carried out. In January 2017, part of the specification for NB-IoT conformance testing was formulated.

10. FAQ about NB-IoT

Which countries have NB-IoT and how to divide the frequency band of NB-IoT?

For any carriers around the globe, NB-IoT is deployed with the 900MHz band while the 800MHz band is used in parts of NB-IoT. The NB-IoT of China Unicom is equipped with 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, and currently, only 900MHz is able to be tested. To enhance the construction of NB-IoT, China Mobile acquires FOD photos and enables the re-cultivation of 900MHz & 1800MHz frequency bands. China Telecom’s NB- IoT is deployed in the 800 MHz band but with a frequency of 5 MHz only.

What is the timeline for Narrowband LoT deployment?

In the year of 2016, China Unicom conducted an NB-IoT outfield scale network trial on the basis of 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands in seven metropolises (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Fuzhou, Changsha and Yinchuan) and introduced over 6 business application demonstrations, and full national commercial deployment of NB-IoT will begin in 2018.

China Mobile intends to launch the commercialization process of NB-IoT in the year 2017. China Telecom starts the plan of the deployment of the NB- IoT network in the first half of 2017. Huawei has joined hands with 6 carriers (China Unicom, China Mobile, Vodafone, Emirates Telecom, Telefonica, etc.) to set up 6 NB-IoT opening labs worldwide to concentrate on NB-IoT business innovation, industry growth, interoperability testing and verification. ZTE teamed up with China Mobile to complete the technical verification evolution of NB-IoT protocol in the 5G Joint Innovation Center laboratory.

What modulation and demodulation technologies are used in NB-IoT?

Downlink using OFDMA, sub-carrier spacing 15kHz. Single-tone: 3.75 kHz/15 kHz, ULTI-tone: 15 kHz. Only half-duplex needs to be supported, with separate synchronization

The signal. The terminal supports the demonstration of single-tone and multi-tone capabilities. The layer processing of MAC/RLC/PDCP/RRC is carried out on the physical layer according to the current LTE process and protocol.

How many connected and active users are included in NB-IoT base stations?

The NB-IoT has 50-100 times more uplink capacity over 2G, 3G and 4G, and can offer 50-100 times more access than current wireless technologies at the same base station.

Regarding the simulation testing data, a base station cell can provide 50,000 NB-IoT terminal accesses.

What is the range of NB-IoT?

NB-IoT increases 20Db of gains higher than LTE and GPRS base stations, expecting to have hard-to-reach areas coverage such as garages below the ground, basements, and underground pipes. Based on the simulation testing data, NB-IoT is able to get to 164dB in the independent deployment model, and the deployments with internal deployment and protection band haven’t been simulated.

What are the transmission rate of NB-IoT’s uplink and downlink?

The RF bandwidth of NB-IoT is 200KHz. Downlink rate: 160kbps- 50kbps. The uplink rate :160kbps-250kbps (multi-tone) or 160kbps-200kbps (Single tone).

Does NB-IoT support a retransmission mechanism?

NB-IoT utilizes a certain mechanism to improve coverage like re-transmission (up to 200 times) and low-cost modulation.

Does NB-IoT have a voice-supported function?

With no coverage improvement, the voice application underpinned by NB-IoT is Push to Talk. In the case of improving 20dB coverage, smart support is similar to Voice Mail. NB-IoT doesn’t support VoLTE, which has extremely high latency requirements. The high-layer protocol stack needs QoS guarantees, which definitely raises the cost.

What is the range of device movement rates and network delay duration for NB-IoT?

NB-IoT is used in application scenarios where mobility is not strongly supported (e.g., intelligent super meters, intelligent parking and so on). It can simplify the complexity of terminals and decrease the power consumption of terminals. NB-IoT doesn’t provide support for mobility management when in the connected state, including relevant measures, measurement reports, shifts, etc.

NB-IoT is able to support a delay of around ten seconds.