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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is NarrowBand-IoT?
3.
Specifications of NB-IoT
4.
Working of NarrowBand-IoT
5.
Key Features of NB-IoT
5.1.
Low Power Consumption
5.2.
Cost-Effective Scalability
5.3.
Extended Coverage
5.4.
Secure and Reliable Communication
6.
Physical Channels and Signals
7.
Applications of NB-IoT
7.1.
Smart Cities 
7.2.
Agriculture and Smart Farming
7.3.
Healthcare and Wearable Devices
7.4.
Asset Tracking
8.
NB-IoT vs. LTE-M
8.1.
NB-IoT
8.2.
LTE-M
9.
Challenges of NarrowBand-IoT
9.1.
Limited Bandwidth
9.2.
Interference and Coverage Issues
9.3.
Power Consumption
9.4.
Standardization and Compatibility
10.
Frequently asked questions
10.1.
What are the limitations of NB-IoT?
10.2.
Which band does NB-IoT use for communication?
10.3.
What is NarrowBand-IoT's maximum bitrate?
10.4.
What is NarrowBand-IoT's operational mode?
11.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

What is NarrowBand-IoT

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Introduction

IoT is the Internet of Things, which connects computer devices, mechanical devices, and digital machines. We use LTE-M, NB-Iot, etc., for IoT applications. LTE-M is the Long Term Evolution for Machines, and NB-IoT stands for NarrowBand-IoT.

What is NarrowBand-IoT

In this article, we will discuss What is NarrowBand-IoT. Also, we will learn about its key features, physical channels, signals, and applications.

What is NarrowBand-IoT?

The Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a recent cellular radio access technology. It is based on Long-Term Evolution (LTE) introduced by Third-Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN). The main aim of NB-IoT is to support massive machine-type communication (mMTC). 

Thus enabling low-power, low-cost, and low-data-rate communication. Devices can stay connected even in areas with weak network signals since it covers a sizable portion of the network. Because it makes use of existing cellular infrastructure, it is also economical. NB-IoT finds use cases in many industries, including smart cities, agriculture, and healthcare. It is because it makes monitoring, optimization, and automation more effective. NB-IoT simplifies IoT device networking, increasing accessibility and usefulness in our daily lives.

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Specifications of NB-IoT

Specifications of NB-IoT are as follows.

Specifications Description
Standard 3GPP Release 13 and onwards
Frequency Bands 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz (varies by region)
Channel Bandwidth 200 kHz
Modulation OFDMA(Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access)
Duplexing Half-duplex (uplink and downlink on separate time/frequency resources)
Maximum Data Rate Uplink: 20 kbps, Downlink: 250 kbps
Coverage Range Up to several kilometers, depending on signal conditions and deployment
Power Efficiency Designed for low-power applications, allowing devices to operate for years on a single battery
Device Density Supports a large number of devices per cell (up to tens of thousands)
Latency Typically in the range of hundreds of milliseconds
Security Support for device authentication, encryption, and integrity protection

Working of NarrowBand-IoT

NB-IoT employs a low-power, wide-area (LPWA) approach, optimizing power consumption and extending battery life for IoT devices. It utilizes a narrow bandwidth, allowing better signal penetration through obstacles like buildings or walls, making it ideal for deployments in challenging environments.

The technology relies on licensed spectrum bands, ensuring secure and reliable communication. It employs a simplified protocol stack, reducing complexity and enabling cost-effective implementations. NB-IoT devices connect to existing cellular infrastructure, leveraging cellular networks' extensive coverage.

NB-IoT's working involves devices sending small data packets at low data rates, allowing for efficient use of network resources. This makes it suitable for applications that require infrequent data transmissions, such as smart city infrastructure, agricultural monitoring, and industrial automation.

Overall, NB-IoT enables widespread IoT connectivity, bringing numerous benefits such as extended coverage, improved power efficiency, and reliable communication to various industries. Its low-cost implementation and compatibility with existing infrastructure make it a promising technology for the future of IoT deployments.

Key Features of NB-IoT

The following are the key features of NB-IoT.

Low Power Consumption

NB-IoT is designed in such a way as to operate on low power. It enables devices to have long battery life. Also, it reduces the need for frequent maintenance or replacement. This feature is crucial for applications. In which devices are deployed in remote or inaccessible locations, such as environmental monitoring, agriculture, and asset tracking.

Cost-Effective Scalability

NB-IoT leverages existing cellular infrastructure, minimizing the need for more infrastructure investments. This reduces deployment costs and enables seamless scalability for large-scale IoT implementations. Organizations can integrate thousands or millions of devices into their networks without significant infrastructure upgrades.

Extended Coverage

NB-IoT offers exceptional coverage even in weak cellular signals. This makes it suitable for deployments in urban areas, remote regions, and indoor environments. Its ability to penetrate walls and other obstacles. It ensures reliable connectivity in challenging locations, expanding the possibilities for IoT deployment.

Secure and Reliable Communication

Security is a critical concern for IoT deployments. NB-IoT addresses this by incorporating robust security mechanisms. It employs encryption protocols, authentication techniques, and secure bootstrapping to protect data transmission. It also ensures the integrity of connected devices. This level of security provides confidence in deploying NB-IoT solutions across industries like healthcare, smart cities, and industrial automation.

Physical Channels and Signals

The frame structure of NB-IoT is the same as that of LTE, with 1024 hyper frames. These hyper frames comprise 1024 frames. And frames contain 10 subframes and two slots with a duration of 0.5 ms in the time domain. Each slot in NB-IoT has 12 subcarriers with 7 OFDM symbols. Also, 48 subcarriers with a slot duration of 2 ms are required when NB-IoT employs the 3.75 kHz spacing on the uplink.

Uplink uses the following channels and signal

  • Narrowband Physical Random Access Channel (NPRACH).
     
  • Narrowband Physical Uplink Shared Channel (NPUSCH).
     
  • Demodulation Reference Signal (DMRS).
     

The following is in the downlink frame.

  • Narrowband Physical Downlink Shared Channel (NPDSCH). Narrowband Physical Downlink Control Channel (NPDCCH).
     
  • Narrowband Reference Signal (NRS).
     
  • Narrowband Primary Synchronization Signal (NPSS). Narrowband Secondary Synchronization Signal (NSSS).
     
  • Narrowband Physical Broadcast Channel (NPBCH).

Applications of NB-IoT

NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) has many crucial applications for various sectors. Thus, it makes our life more smooth and more efficient.

Applications of NB-IoT

Smart Cities 

NB-IoT can be used to make our cities into smart cities. A smart city means providing intelligent, sustainable environments to the people using this technology. NB-IoT enables real-time monitoring and data-driven decision-making. And it enhanced resource management by connecting streetlights, waste management systems, parking infrastructure, and environmental sensors.

Agriculture and Smart Farming

The employment of robotics, drones, sensors, and computer imagery combined with analytical tools for gaining insights. It monitors the farms and applies IoT in agriculture through precision agriculture. Farms with physical equipment monitor and record data subsequently used to gain insightful information.

Healthcare and Wearable Devices

NB-IoT can revolutionize the healthcare industry by connecting wearable devices, remote patient monitoring systems, and healthcare infrastructure. It enables continuous monitoring of vital signs and remote patient care. Also monitors the real-time transmission of health data to healthcare professionals, improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.

Asset Tracking

NB-IoT can track and manage assets such as vehicles, containers, or valuable equipment. Attaching NB-IoT-enabled trackers makes monitoring the location, condition, and movement of assets more accessible. This can help improve logistics, prevent theft, and enhance supply chain management.

NB-IoT vs. LTE-M

NB-IoT

As the name suggests, Narrowband-IoT focuses on narrow bandwidth, allowing for efficient connectivity with low power consumption. It is ideal for applications that require infrequent data transmission, such as smart metering, asset tracking, and environmental monitoring. NB-IoT's extended coverage range and enhanced signal penetration make it suitable for deployments in challenging environments.

LTE-M

LTE-M, conversely, stands for Long-Term Evolution for Machines and provides a broader bandwidth than NB-IoT. It offers higher data rates, lower latency, and improved mobility, making it well-suited for applications requiring real-time communication and mobility support, including wearables, vehicle tracking, and industrial automation.

Challenges of NarrowBand-IoT

The hurdles faced by NB-IoT are given below.

Limited Bandwidth

One of the primary challenges of NB-IoT lies in its narrow bandwidth. With reduced data rates compared to traditional IoT technologies, NB-IoT needs help to support applications requiring large amounts of data, hindering real-time monitoring and high-speed communication.

Interference and Coverage Issues

NB-IoT operates on licensed spectrum bands, making it susceptible to interference from existing cellular networks. In addition, its coverage range can be limited in areas with obstructed signals, such as dense urban environments or deep indoor locations, impeding reliable connectivity.

Power Consumption

Efficient power management is critical for IoT devices, particularly those deployed in remote or battery-powered applications. However, NB-IoT devices often require more energy for transmission, leading to shorter battery life and increased maintenance costs.

Standardization and Compatibility

The IoT landscape is a diverse ecosystem of devices, protocols, and platforms. Ensuring seamless integration and interoperability between NB-IoT devices and existing infrastructure poses a significant challenge due to the need for standardization and compatibility across multiple technologies.

Frequently asked questions

What are the limitations of NB-IoT?

There are some of limitations of NB-IoT. Some of these limitations are the expensiveness and NB-IoT deployment is very complex. It also has a low bandwidth and sometimes has a security issue.

Which band does NB-IoT use for communication?

It restricts the bandwidth to a single narrow band of 200kHz.The methods used are OFDM modulation for downlink communication, SC-FDMA for uplink communications, and SC-FDMA for uplink communications.

What is NarrowBand-IoT's maximum bitrate?

NB-IoT applications are also perfect for systems that simply need to transfer tiny amounts of data. NB-IoT can only transmit data at a maximum rate of 128 Kbit/s in each transmission direction.

What is NarrowBand-IoT's operational mode?

Three distinct deployment methods for NB-IoT are available on the network. One is the use of a stand-alone carrier in a specific spectrum band. Another utilizes resource blocks found inside a typical LTE carrier. And one utilizes the unused resource blocks in the guard band of an LTE carrier.

Conclusion

In this article, we have learned what is NarrowBand-IoT. We have also seen why we use this technology. Also, we have discussed key features, advantages, and various applications of NarrowBand-IoT where we can implement it.

To read more, go through the following articles.

 

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