R&S Introduces World’s First LTE/NB-IoT Coverage Measurement Solution

The Internet of things (IoT) translates into a future where a myriad of devices are connected to the Internet and to each other. Current LTE networks are optimized for delivering high data rates for multimedia applications requiring high bandwidths. However, networks for IoT applications require  high availability (deep indoor penetration) and low battery consumption. To do so standards like NB-IoT, LTE CAT M1 and EC-GSM-IoT were created.

One of the key requirements for technologies like NB-IoT is that devices using them must have good network coverage to ensure a proper NB-IoT connection. Unlike human beings, smart meters installed in basements are unable to change position for a better signal.

Rohde & Schwarz Mobile Network Testing division now offers a new product for NB-IoT coverage measurements. The new NB-IoT coverage measurement solution is based on the field-proven R&S ROMES drive test software for measuring network quality with scanners and test mobiles in all mobile technologies. In combination with the R&S TSMW, TSMA, and TSME scanners, R&S ROMES offers the first LTE/NB-IoT coverage measurement solution that measures true NB-IoT network coverage.

The NB-IoT radio interface is less complex than legacy LTE, thus ensuring less costly NB-IoT user equipment (Cat-NB1). NB-IoT is a half-duplex mode access, meaning that NB-IoT user equipment can only either receive or transmit; it can never receive and transmit simultaneously. Another difference between NB-IoT and LTE user equipment concerns cell reselection: NB-IoT user equipment supports this mechanism only in idle mode. This affects the abilities of NB-IoT user equipment to perform continuous and accurate RF coverage measurements. Consequently, using a scanner is the only viable solution for accurate and comprehensive measurement results. Unlike testing with NB-IoT user equipment, scanner-based testing is passive and captures the measurement data directly from the RF air interface, including receive power levels and carrier-to-interference-and-noise-ratio (CINR).

The NB-IoT coverage measurement solution with R&S ROMES and TSMx scanners is part of R&S Mobile Network Testing’s latest software release.

Rohde & Schwarz Mobile Network Testing was also able to demonstrate the verification of device/network interworking by connecting NB-IoT user equipment to R&S ROMES. Apart from RF tests, this setup provided further metrics such as downlink and uplink latency and throughput, and protocol behavior. For more information about Rohde & Schwarz Mobile Network Testing solutions for mobile network operators, infrastructure vendors, testing service providers, and regulators, click here.