Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) belongs to the category of cellular IoT protocols, basically integrating the Cellular technology in the IoT regime. Basically, it’s a way of connecting physical things (like sensors) to the internet using the same cellular networks behind a typical smartphone. Instead of needing to create a new, private network to house IoT devices, those can operate on the same mobile network as smartphones. Cellular IoT provides an alternative to low power, wide area networks (acronym: “LPWAN”) like the non-cellular “LoRaWAN” and “Sigfox” technologies, which operate in unlicensed bands. NB-IoT addresses some of the defects of current technologies, such as poor reliability, poor security, high operational and maintenance costs and a complexity of overlay network deployment. NB-IoT exhibits advantages such as wide area coverage, fast upgrade of existing network, low-power consumption, long battery lifetime (guaranteeing 10-year battery life), low cost terminal and high reliability.

NB-IoT protocol enables operators to operate traditional businesses such as Smart Metering, Tracking, with ultra-low-cost ($ 5) modules and super connectivity (50K / Cell). Moreover, low power consumption is a prerequisite for almost 80% of all LPWA use cases, ranging from applications like smart meter, smart parking, and wearables to smart grid.

By performing a comparison of the inherent capabilities of NB-IoT with other LPWAN technologies like e-MTC, SigFox and LoRa, NB-IoT offers better performance. Furthermore, by exploring all the technologies in terms of network investment, coverage scenario, uplink and downlink traffic and network reliability, NB-IoT is the most suitable technology. Performance -wise, NB-IoT guarantees 20+dB coverage, ~1000x connections, ~10 years using only 200 KHz bandwidth whereas the other technologies like eMTC, SigFox offer far less in terms of performance. NB-IoT has also quite an extensive ecosystem mainly because of its support from many global top operators.

The respective architecture of a NB-IoT network is shown at figure 4 below. Similarly to LoRaWAN network architecture described above, the NB-IoT terminals (basically sensors that are integrated to various devices) transmit the application-dependent sensing data – using the same cellular technology of our mobile devices – to a cellular base station. The data are then forwarded to an NB-IoT platform for secure storage and management. If applicable, the NB-IoT platform will also forward the corresponding data to an application server for further processing.

Wide Range

Wide Range Transmission

Long Battery

Very Long Battery Life Time


Operation in Licensed Spectrum

Low Cost

Ultra Low Operational Cost

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