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Get Comprehensive Understanding about NB-IoT in 5 Minutes
Jimi loTJimi loT2019-10-04

This article will give you everything you want to know about NB-IoT. After carefully reading in 5 minutes, you would really enter the IoT industrial.

What are the advantages of NB-IoT?
As a technology used in low-rate services, NB-IoT 's advantages are not hard to conclude:
1.Massive Connections: NB-IoT can provide 50-100 times connections than existing wireless technologies in the same base station. One sector can support 100,000 connections, low latency sensitivity, ultra-low device cost, low device power consumption, and optimized network architecture. For example, limited by the bandwidth, the operators only open 8-16 access points for each router in the home, while there are often multiple mobile phones, laptops, and tablets in one place. In the future, it will become a daunting challenge to realize the whole-house intelligence and the networking of hundreds of sensor devices. Nb-IoT can easily meet the networking needs of a large number of devices in the smart home in the future.
2.High coverage: NB-IoT has a strong indoor coverage capacity, with a 20dB gain increase over LTE, equivalent to a 100-fold increase in coverage area capacity. It can not only meet the needs of extensive coverage in rural areas, but also can apply to the places with depth coverage requirements, such as factories, underground garages and manhole covers. Take manhole cover monitoring as an example, GPRS mode required extending an antenna in the past, which causes damaged easily. However, NB-IoT can solve this problem as long as it is properly deployed.
Low power consumption: Low power consumption characteristic is an important index for IoT applications, especially for some occasions can't change the battery frequently, such as in the remote areas, such as deserts, mountains.  Battery life that up to years is the most essential requirements. Nb-IoT focuses on small data volumes and small rate applications, therefore, the power consumption of the NB-IoT device can be very small, and the battery life can last for years.
3.Low cost: Spectrum sharing of NB-IoT/GSM and NB-LTE, which can cut down deployment cost. Take China mobile as an example, there is a relatively wide frequency band in 900MHZ, and only a part of 2G band needs to be cleared out so that LTE and NB-IoT can be directly deployed at the same time. Low speed, low power consumption and low bandwidth also bring low-cost advantages to chips and modules. Modules are expected to cost less than $5.

Why NB-IoT?
Data transmission is one essential foundation towards "Internet of everything". Different IoT services have different requirements for data transmission capacity and real-time performance.
According to different transmission rates, Internet of things services can be distinguished into high, medium and low speeds:
1. High-speed services: mainly use 3G and 4G technologies, such as  surveillance cameras, and the corresponding business requires real-time data transmission;
2. Medium rate service: mainly using GPRS technology, such as lockers in residential areas or supermarkets, with high frequency but not real-time use, which has far less network transmission speed requirement than high-rate service;
3. Low rate service: the industry classifies the low rate service market as LPWAN market, that is, Low Power Wide Area Network. At present, there is no corresponding cellular technology and only can be supported by GPRS technology in most cases, which brings the problem of high cost and low popularity.
That is to say, the low-rate business market needs urgent development, and at the same time, it is also the largest market, such as fire extinguishers in buildings, various monitors used in scientific research. The frequency of such devices in daily life is very low, but the total numbers are considerable, it can be used for various purposes, such as improving the configuration of urban equipment.
Nb-IoT is a new narrow-band cellular communication (LPWAN) technology that can help us solve this problem.

What certification is required for NB-IoT products?
The network access license stipulated by each country. SIM card and IMEI number need to be bound.

Can NB-IoT be applied to trash management?
Trash can have the characteristics of large quantity, wide distribution, poor environment and difficult classification and implementation. Singapore and some European cities have adopted NB-IoT technology to deploy trash cans. The purpose is to monitor the full bin, optimize the garbage truck's route, cut down the number of drivers and vehicle fuel consumption. At present, some countries realize the automatic management of trash cans through NB-IoT, solving the problems of long routes, expensive labor, etc.

Can NB-IoT be applied to fire hydrants management?
At present, in order to reduce the fire hydrants' waste rate from 30% to 10%, the water company has added GPRS communication function to the big hydrant cover to facilitate platform management.

Can NB-IoT be applied to smart home?
The smart home cannot get wide popularity even with the economic and political backup, the main reason is due to network coverage.
Nb-IoT technology can get rid of the reliance on the home gateway. Being an independent terminal with the urban network coverage, it can generate a better smart home industry.

Can NB-IoT be applied to wearable devices?
Independent wearable devices urgently need NB-IoT technology, especially long-term chronic disease monitoring and tracking management for the elderly, children and pets. It changes the current rely on WiFi, Bluetooth communication means, solves a lot of problems such as unable to track due to fast power consumption.

Can NB-IoT be applied to smart buildings?
The energy consumption measurement, environmental monitoring and large fixed assets management of intelligent buildings are more suitable for NB-IoT technology. With various meters, air conditioners, lights, alarms, temperature and humidity, environmental parameters, underground spaces, pipe corridors... NB-IoT can simplify the complexity of existing systems.

Can NB-IoT be applied to alarm detectors?
Household alarm detectors are usually powered by 9V batteries, most of which are local alarms. The networked alarm is difficult to popularize due to power supply and installation location. Nb-IoT technology allows devices to operate for more than five years and can send alert when it breaks down or battery is out of power, providing a safe, secure and convenient way for homes, communities, tenants.

Can NB-IoT be applied to street light?
Smart street light belongs to municipal engineering, the power supply is not a problem, mainly the cost. The single light management uses PLC+GPRS communication, because the gateway fixed position, it brings a higher requirement on signal coverage. Comprehensive intelligent street light adopts LTE communication. Nb-IoT's network coverage advantage plus tariff advantage can be integrated into a single light management system and realize cost down.

Can NB-IoT be applied to elevator?
The control of the elevator is mostly on the roof, and the CAN bus is connected to obtain data. There is GPRS separate communication mode and Zigbee+GPRS networking mode. NB-IoT network coverage advantage makes it a better choice on fixed assets management such as elevator.

Can NB-IoT be applied to asset tracking?
High-value asset tracking usually adopts M2M+GNSS mode, which is mainly used for container lock, money box, vaccine box and other fields. In order to ensure 1 to 3 months of working time, a longtime battery power supply is required. Nb-IoT technology can meet the low power consumption requirement.

Can NB-IoT be applied to agricultural?
IoT agricultural usually adopts M2M, Zigbee, 433MHz, WiFi, wired and other methods. The main problems focus on network coverage, power supply and cost. NB-IoT technology combined with sensors, fully sealed enclosure, low-cost can help improve agricultural production. For suburban areas, NB-IoT can greatly improve aquaculture, greenbelts, flowers and other high-value-added agricultural production and circulation fields.

Can NB-IoT be applied to manufacturing?
At present, the wireless signal coverage in many large factories is very poor, while the wired communication mode is difficult or expensive to implement. In order to achieve the goal of intelligent manufacturing, the main equipment and instruments must be ensured to communicate with each other through the Internet of things. Nb-IoT network coverage capability, combined with the optical fiber network and broadband network in the factory,  can create a simple, effective and full network, which is the basis of realizing intelligent manufacturing.

Can NB-IoT be applied to power meter reading?
The scene of power meter reading is divided into user side communication and distribution network communication system. The power load monitoring system adopts 230 MHz +1.8GHz TD-LTE private networks. The remote meter reading of the user meter has adopted many technologies, including GPRS, 3G, LTE, PLC, Zigbee, 433MHz and so on. The goal of the meter reading frequency is to collect and upload every 15 minutes and 96 points every day, so as to realize the online monitoring and control of the power grid. China and other places where people live in concentration are mainly using centralized meter reading, mainly including power optical fiber collection and GPRS collection (accounting for more than 50%), and Europe, the United States and other places where people live in dispersion are mainly using independent meter reading. Since power supply is not a problem for power meter reading and the data volume is relatively large, the demand for NB-IoT for power meter reading is not urgent.

Can NB-IoT be applied to power meter parking?
Parking in the garage has been applied with many technical means, each with its own characteristics. The current problem is the communication network coverage. Occupying the parking lane is convenient for car owners to park, but not conducive to road traffic. Parking in the busy road usually adopts manual charge, POS machine charge and geomagnetic vehicle inspection auxiliary charge. NB-IoT technology used in parking can save labor costs, reduce road congestion, and develop good parking habits.

What are the concerns of NB-IoT in the vertical application fields?
Nb-IoT technology can meet the requirements of low power consumption, long standby, deep coverage, and large capacity of low-rate service, and is more suitable for static service, low-latency sensitivity, discontinuous movement, and real-time data transmission business scenarios. 
1. Autonomous abnormal report service: such as smoke alarm detector, abnormal equipment operation, etc., uplink minimal data volume (order of ten bytes), and the cycle is mostly in years and months. 
2. Autonomous cycle reports: such as remote meter reading and environmental monitoring of public utilities, small amount of data (on the order of 100 bytes) on the uplink, and the cycle is mostly in days and hours. 
3. Remote control instructions: such as remote device on/off, device trigger sending uplinking report, downlink very small amount of data (on the order of ten bytes), cycle in days and hours. 
4. Software remote update: such as software patch/update, a large amount of data (on the order of kilobytes) needs to be uploaded and downloaded, and the cycle is usually in days and hours.

What are NB-IoT chip manufacturers?
Huawei Hisilicon, Qualcomm, Intel, RDA, Simplight, MTK, TI, SEQUANS, MARVELL, NORDIC, ZTE microwave, etc. Nb-IoT chip makers are mainly from GSM/LTE Modem companies, as well as MCU companies similar to WiFi/BT.

Why Nb-IoT chips are cheap?
Low speed, low power consumption and low bandwidth bring low cost advantage. 
Low speed: means no need for large cache, so low DSP configuration.
Low power consumption: low RF design requirements, small PA can be achieved.
Low bandwidth: means no need for complex equalization algorithms... 
These factors make NB-IoT chips cost down.
Take a certain chip as an example, NB-IoT chip integrates BB, AP, Flash and battery management, and reserved sensor integration function. AP contains three ARM-M0 kernels, each of which is responsible for application, security and communication functions respectively, so as to reduce cost and power consumption while facilitating function management.

What is the NB-IoT range for device mobility speed?
Nb-IoT is suitable for application scenarios with poor mobility (such as smart meter reading, smart parking, etc.) while simplifying the complexity of terminals and reducing terminal power consumption. Nb-IoT does not support connected mobility management, including related measurements, measurement reports, switching, etc.

What is the network latency of NB-IoT?
NB-IoT allows a delay of approximately 10 s but can support lower latency in a maximum coupling loss environment, such as around 6 s.

What is the deployment cost of the NB-IoT vertical application fields?
The deployment costs of NB-IoT vertical application fields include hardware costs, network costs, installation costs, and service costs. If you want to scale up your application, you must reduce your deployment costs.

What is the uplink and downlink transmission rate of NB-IoT?
The NB-IoT RF bandwidth is 200kHz. 
Downlink rate: greater than 160kbps, less than 250kbps. 
Uplink rate: greater than 160 kbps, less than 250 kbps (Multi-tone) / 200 kbps (Single-tone).

Does NB-IoT support the retransmission mechanism?
NB-IoT uses retransmission (up to 200 times) and low-order modulation for coverage enhancement.

Does NB-IoT support voice?
The NB-IoT supported voice is Push to Talk without coverage enhancement. In a scene with 20dB coverage enhancement, it can only support similar Voice Mail. NB-IoT does not support VoLTE, which requires too much latency, and high-layer protocol stacks require QoS guarantees, which will increase costs.

Why does the NB-IoT chip have low power consumption?
The energy consumed by the device is related to the amount or rate of data. The size of the data packet sent per unit time determines the power consumption. NB-IoT introduces eDRX power-saving technology and PSM power-saving mode to further reduce power consumption and extend battery life. NB-IoT allows devices to be online from time to time but saves power by reducing unnecessary signaling and not accepting paging information in PSM state. In PSM mode, the terminal is still registered in the network, but the signaling is unreachable, so that the terminal stays in deep sleep for a longer period of time to save power. The eDRX power-saving technology further extends the sleep cycle of the terminal in idle mode and reduces the unnecessary start-up of the receiving unit, which greatly improves the downlink reachability relative to the PSM.

Does NB-IoT sleep wake-up mode affect battery life?
At present, the working time given by NB-IoT is based on simulation data, and does not consider the battery itself and environmental factors, such as self-discharge and aging of the battery, high and low temperature environmental impact. In actual use, it is necessary to comprehensively evaluate the battery power supply time according to the actual situation. NB-IoT uses a power-saving scheme for sleep wake-up. When the battery wakes up during sleep, it receives a transient high current, which will greatly affect battery life. The application of meter reading usually uses lithium thionyl chloride (Li/SOCl2) batteries with supercapacitors. Consumer electronics and other applications are typically powered by polymer lithium batteries.

Does NB-IoT support base station positioning?

R13 does not support base station positioning, but the carrier network can be a private solution, such as cell ID-based positioning, which does not affect the terminal. It only needs the network to add a positioning server and contact with the base station. R14 plans to do location enhancement and support E-CID, UTDOA or OTDOA. The operator's desired positioning accuracy target is within 50 meters. UTDOA is better from a terminal complexity perspective because it has little impact on the terminal, and in the case of coverage enhancement (164dB in the basement), UTDOA (uplink) consumes less power; if most scenarios do not require coverage enhancement, the slave network from a capacity perspective, OTDOA (downstream) will be better.

What are the deployment methods of NB-IoT?
NB-IoT supports 3 different deployment modes, namely independent deployment, guard band deployment, and in-band deployment. 
Independent deployment: A separate frequency band can be utilized, suitable for re-cultivation in the GSM band. 
Guard Band Deployment: You can take advantage of edge unwanted bands in LTE systems. 
In-band deployment: Any resource block in the middle of an LTE carrier can be utilized.

What modulation and demodulation technology does NB-IoT use?
The downlink uses OFDMA with a subcarrier spacing of 15 kHz. The uplink uses SC-FDMA, Single-tone: 3.75 kHz/15 kHz, Multi-tone: 15 kHz. Only half-duplex is required, with separate sync signals. The terminal supports instructions for Single-tone and Multi-tone capabilities. The MAC/RLC/PDCP/RRC layer processing is based on existing LTE processes and protocols, and the physical layer performs correlation optimization.

What are the number of connected users and the number of active users of the NB-IoT base station?
NB-IoT has 50 to 100 times higher uplink capacity than 2G/3G/4G. In the same base station, NB-IoT can provide 50~100 times more connection than existing wireless technology. Below the 200KHz frequency, according to the simulation test data, a single base station cell can support 50,000 NB-IoT terminal connection.

What is the coverage of the NB-IoT base station?
NB-IoT boosts 20dB of gain over LTE and GPRS base stations, and is expected to cover areas where underground signals such as underground garages, basements, and underground pipes are difficult to reach. According to the simulation test data, the NB-IoT coverage capability can reach 164dB in the independent deployment mode, and the in-band deployment and guard band deployment remains to be tested.

Does NB-IoT standard support TDD LTE?
Currently, FDD LTE systems support NB-IoT technology, and TDD LTE systems do not support NB-IoT technology. The physical layer design of NB-IoT mostly uses LTE system technology, such as SC-FDMA for uplink and OFDM for downlink. The high-level protocol design uses the LTE protocol to enhance its small packet, low power, and large connectivity features. The core network is based on the S1 interface connection and supports both independent deployment and upgrade deployment.

What is the operator's exit plan for 2G/3G networks?
Japan's mobile operators have all shut down 2G networks, and AT&T in the US, Telstra and Optus in Australia have announced plans to shut down the 2G network. Telenor plans to close its 3G network in Norway by 2020 and then shut down its 2G network in 2025. Some operators have considered the long-term existence of more than 100 million GPRS IoT terminals and low-end GSM mobile phones, and because of the low complexity of GSM and the lack of patent fees, the cost is lower than LTE for a long time, so for a long period of time. Therefore, most operators will maintain the GSM band to continue operations.

Does the operator support NB-IoT roaming?
Not support.

How can operators guarantee the stability of the NB-IoT network?
NB-IoT can be directly deployed on GSM, UMTS or LTE networks, and can be reused with existing network base stations to reduce deployment costs and achieve smooth upgrade. However, using a separate 180KHz band does not occupy the voice and data bandwidth of the existing network. Traditional business and future IoT business can be carried out stably and reliably at the same time.

The control of the NB-IoT is separated from the bearer, the signaling takes the control plane, and the data travels to the bearer plane. If it is a low-rate service, it directly goes to the control plane, and no longer establishes a dedicated bearer. It omits the chain-building signaling process of the NAS and the core network, and shortens the wake-up recovery delay. NB-IoT is an operational telecommunications network. This is the key to distinguishing NB-IoT from technologies such as GPRS, LoRa, and SigFox.

How can operators make profit from NB-IoT network?
The QoS service quality assurance, network security, carrier-class billing, and big data services continue to maintain industry advantages. The NB-IoT network enables operators to enhance the service capabilities of the Internet of Things, including cloud service provision, massive customer management, IoT real-name certification, system total package integration, high-end customized services for large customers.

NB-IoT price?
Operator tariff: one is based on traffic billing, one is billed by message, it will be lower than GPRS fee
Below 2G main chip, reasonable expectation module price is $1 
Below the GPRS module price, reasonable expectation terminal price is $2 
Maintenance costs: much lower than existing network maintenance costs
Subsidy policy: the operators will provide greater operating subsidies in the early days

Can non-operators deploy NB-IoT networks?

Does NB-IoT need a real-name system?

Does NB-IoT use eSIM?
The NB-IoT's product features no installation configuration, direct connection to the network to work, and support for automatic registration of equipment and air upgrades. The SIM card and eSIM will coexist for a long time, and the operator rejects the soft SIM mode.

How is the network architecture of NB-IoT composed?
The construction of IoT vertical industry applications based on NB-IoT technology will tend to be simpler and the division of labor will be more clear.

What is the operator band for NB-IoT?
Most operators around the world use the 900 MHz band to deploy NB-IoT, and some are deployed in the 800MHz band.

Does the NB-IoT module also require a sim card?
It should be noted that the current development of the NB-IoT chip still requires operator network support, but unlike the mobile phone card, a separate NB card support is required. In other words, the NB-IoT module requires a network access license as specified by each country. The SIM card and IMEI number need to be bound. The NB card requires the unit, school or individual to apply to the operator's Internet of Things department before it can be obtained.

Jimi, as a professional IoT solution provider, is always keeping pace with the trend and bring reliable products and services to our customers all over the world. Welcome to contact us for any IoT issues.

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