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What is the role of narrowband IoT in 5G networks?

Author:QINSUN Released in:2024-03 Click:36

Exploring the role of narrowband IoT in 5G networks requires understanding how these two different technical standards ultimately complement each other. Let's take a look at what NB IoT and 5G are, and then see how they work together in future wireless IoT deployments.

What is narrowband Internet of Things?

The NB IoT standard was officially developed by the Third Generation Partner Program (3GPP) and is currently running on LTE cellular networks. This is a niche technology suitable for low-power, wide area use cases in indoor environments.

The purpose of this standard is to enable low-cost, battery powered IoT devices to connect and transmit small amounts of data in batch transmission schemes. The goal of certain battery powered IoT devices is to make them sustainable for up to 10 years without maintenance. Therefore, energy efficiency should be kept in mind when developing NB IoT. However, this technology achieves this goal at the cost of throughput and real-time data transmission.

When using the new LTECat-NB2 technology (upgraded from LTECat-NB1 to 3GPP version 14 specification), this technology limits the uplink bandwidth to a maximum of 159Kbps. In addition, narrowband in NB IoT means that IoT devices use a single frequency band to connect and transmit data. Similarly, this is to protect the battery level of IoT devices.

What will a mature 5G network look like?

5G is the next step in the development of broadband cellular technology. This technology has played a significant role in 4G and LTE, and has improved performance, latency, and device density. As new mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone 12 begin to use wireless chips that support 5G, American operators such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are upgrading their networks to 5G technology.

5G will also be deployable as a private mobile computing network. By leveraging the open space of the Federal Communications Commission in the spectrum of citizen broadband radio services, businesses can deploy their own 5G networks to cover large buildings, manufacturing factories, and campus environments where traditional Wi Fi deployment is not ideal.

Bringing narrowband IoT into 5G networks

NB IoT is currently being ushered into the 5G era.

In July, the Telecommunications Union confirmed 3GPPNB IoT as an officially supported standard. This means that compared to old cellular technologies, the bandwidth performance of NB IoT networks should be improved, the density of connected devices will be higher, and the latency will be lower. Therefore, it is expected that NB IoT will become a feasible deployment option for both operator 5G and privately deployed 5G networks.