NB-IoT and LTE-M Explained:
Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard developed by 3GPP to enable a wide range of cellular devices and service.
The advantage of LTE-M over NB-IoT is its comparatively higher data rate, mobility, and voice over the network, but it requires more bandwidth, is more costly, and cannot be put into guard band frequency band for now.. In March 2019, the Global Mobile Suppliers Association reported that over 100 operators had deployed/launched either NB-IoT or LTE-M networks.
What is Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)?
Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a new fast-growing wireless technology 3GPP cellular technology standard introduced in Release 13 that addresses the LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) requirements of the IoT.
It’s been classified as a 5G technology, standardised by 3GPP in 2016.
It is fast emerging as the best in class-leading LPWAN technology to enable a wide range of new IIoT devices, including smart parking, utilities, wearables, and industrial solutions.
NB-IoT is characterised by:
- excellent indoor coverage,
- support of a massive number of connections,
- cost efficiency,
- low device power consumption,
- optimised network architecture.
NB-IoT dramatically improves network efficiency, increasing the capacity to support a massive number of new connections using only a portion of the available spectrum.
This efficiency, in turn, minimises power consumption enabling battery life of more than ten years.
Also, NB-IoT penetrates deep underground and into enclosed spaces providing 20+dB coverage indoors
LTE-M, industry shorthand for “Long-Term Evolution (LTE) machine-type communications (MTC),” is an LPWA technology standard introduced by 3GPP in Release 13.
As described by the GSMA, it is a 5G technology that supports simplified device complexity, massive connection density, low device power consumption, low latency and it provides extended coverage, while allowing the reuse of the LTE installed base.
LTE-M deployment can be done “in-band” within a standard LTE carrier or “standalone” in a dedicated spectrum. It leverages LTE spread spectrum technology, which is free. It serves a broad set of use cases providing an attractive option for device manufacturers looking to deploy on current cellular networks.
Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) leverages DSSS modulation technology vs. LTE spread technology for connectivity.
NB-IoT is very flexible and can operate in 2G, 3G and 4G band. It eliminates the need for a gateway, which saves cost in the long run.
It is characterised by improved indoor coverage, support of a massive number of low throughput devices, low delay sensitivity, low device power consumption, optimised network architecture, and it is ultra-cost efficient.
Like LTE-M, NB-IoT can be deployed “in-band” within a standard LTE carrier or “standalone” for deployments in dedicated spectrum. Additionally, NB-IoT can also be implemented in an LTE carrier’s guard-band.
LTE-M Frequency Bands
According to recommendations by the members of the GSMA LTE-M Task Force, minimum of eleven bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 20, 25, 26 and 28 are required for coverage in all the countries for which the LTE-M members have provided input
NB-IoT Frequency Bands
Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), also known as LTE Cat NB1 is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) Technology developed for the Internet of things. The NB-IoT specification was frozen in Release 13 of the 3GPP specification (LTE-Advanced Pro), in June 2016. Release 13 defined 14 frequency bands for NB-IoT. In, Release 14, 4 more frequency bands were added (11, 25, 31 and 70). In Release 15, 7 more bands were introduced (4, 14, 71, 72, 73, 74, 85).
NB-IoT Frequency Bands
|NB-IoT Band||Uplink Band||Downlink Band||Bandwidth||Duplex Mode|
|B1||1920 – 1980 MHz||2110 – 2170 MHz||60 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B2||1850 – 1910 MHz||1930 – 1990 MHz||60 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B3||1710 – 1785 MHz||1805 – 1880 MHz||75 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B4||1710 -1755 MHz||2110 -2155 MHz||45 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B5||824 – 849 MHz||869 – 894 MHz||25 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B8||880 – 915 MHz||925 – 960 MHz||25 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B11||1427.9 – 1447.9 MHz||1475.9 – 1495.9 MHz||20 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B12||699 – 716 MHz||729 – 746 MHz||17 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B13||777 – 787 MHz||746 – 756 MHz||10 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B14||788 – 798 MHz||758 to 768 MHz||10 MHz||HF-FDD|
|B17||704 – 716 MHz||734 – 746 MHz||12 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B18||815 – 830 MHz||860 – 875 MHz||15 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B19||830 – 845 MHz||875 – 890 MHz||15 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B20||832 – 862 MHz||791 – 821 MHz||30 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B25||1850 – 1915 MHz||1930 – 1995 MHz||65 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B26||814 – 849 MHz||859 – 894 MHz||35 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B28||703 – 748 MHz||758 – 803 MHz||45 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B31||452.5 – 457.5 MHz||462.5 – 467.5 MHz||5 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B66||1710 – 1780 MHz||2110 – 2200 MHz||70/90 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B70||1695 – 1710 MHz||1995 – 2020 MHz||25 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B71||633 – 698 MHz||617 – 783 MHz||65 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B72||451 – 456 MHz||461 – 466 MHz||5 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B73||450 – 455 MHz||461 – 466 MHz||5 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B74||1427 – 1470 MHz||1475 – 1518 MHz||43 MHz||HD-FDD|
|B85||698 – 716 MHz||728 – 746 MHz||10 MHz||HD-FDD|
As of March 2019 GSA had identified:
149 operators in 69 countries investing in one or both of the NB-IoT and LTE-M network technologies
104 of those operators in 53 countries had deployed/launched at least one of the NB-IoT or LTE-M technologies of those, 20 operators in 19 countries had deployed/launched both NB-IoT and LTE-M
22 countries are now home to deployed/launched NB-IoT and LTE-M networks
29 countries are home to deployed/launched NB-IoT networks only
Two countries are home to deployed/launched LTE-M networks only
141 operators in 69 countries investing in NB-IoT networks; 90 of those operators in 51 countries had deployed/launched their networks
60 operators in 35 countries investing in LTE-M networks; 34 of those operators in 24 countries had deployed/launched their networks
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