What is NB-IoT?

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Raghav Kapur - everything RF

Jul 26, 2017

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), also known as LTE Cat NB1 is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) Technology that has been developed to enable a wide range of devices to be connected to the internet using existing mobile networks. NB-IoT has been developed to enable the Internt of Things (IoT). It is a low power, narrow band technology that can handle small amounts of 2-way data transmission in an efficient, secure and reliable manner.

The NB-IoT technology operates using resource blocks on existing LTE networks or in the LTE carrier's guard bands. It can also operate using unused 200 khz bands that were previously used by GSM.

The NB-IoT specification was frozen in Release 13 of the 3GPP specification (LTE-Advanced Pro), in June 2016. As Per Release 13 the technology specs are are follows:

  • Downlink Peak Rate: 250 kbps
  • Uplink Peak Rate: 250 kbps (Multi-tone) and 20 kbps (Single Tone)
  • Latency: 1.6 to 10 sec
  • Duplex Technology: Half Duplex
  • Device Receive Bandwidth: 180 kHz
  • Device Transmit Power: 20/23 dBm

NB-IoT is one of the more popular LPWA technologies which can be used for IoT Applications. It offers the right combination of features. The low-frequency narrowband signals have a long range and propagation characteristics which can penetrate through walls and metal conduits. The power requirements are low enough to enable devices powered by a single battery to last more than 10 years. It data rate is just right for IoT Applications like meter readings, controlling street lighting, monitoring of parking slots, Industrial data monitoring and a number of other low data rate applications.

Here is a Video from u-blox that talks about NB-IoT and its Applications

There are a number of other LPWA Technologies that are also being considered for IoT Applications. One of the more popular ones is LTE CAT M-1 - Click here to learn about this technology.