A boost for the Internet of Things

Apr 26, 2016

The new radio technology is ideal for connecting battery-operated "things": Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) features longer range at lower power consumption.
The Internet of Things (IoT) requires reliable, area-wide network technologies. Deutsche Telekom is about to launch a new radio technology for IoT use cases where conventional solutions would be uneconomical or even ineffective. Narrowband IoT is the technology of choice for all cases that demand long range, low power consumption and low costs. By the year 2024, nearly 14 percent of all machine-to-machine (M2M) communication links will use this type of technology, according to estimates by Machina Research.

Ten-year battery life

One example is smart metering. Gas and water meters are usually installed in cellars, where conventional cellular technologies reach their limits. A radio module is needed that provides better coverage in buildings and – ideally – requires no external power supply. NB-IoT modules have a reception gain of 20 decibels compared to GSM. At the same time, their energy requirements are minimal, because they only transmit small data packets in long intervals. As a result, a standard battery can last for up to ten years.

Range over ten kilometers

Narrowband IoT, the radio technology for the Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWA), has an extremely long range of over ten kilometers – making it especially attractive for tracking containers, for example, or for monitoring tanks and pipelines. Other use cases include connected streetlights, the monitoring of livestock in agriculture and smart appliances.

Low costs

Narrowband IoT will offer an economical alternative to conventional cellular technologies for a number of reasons. The data transmission costs are low, because many applications only generate low data volumes – below 100 bps to a few kbps – and do not require constant connections. Moreover, network operation is possible in a spectrum of just 200 kHz. Last but not least, the modules can be produced very inexpensively and will enable the cost-effective connection of large numbers of devices.

On the home stretch

Now that the technology has been developed, Deutsche Telekom is about to implement it: following a highly successful test last fall, Deutsche Telekom is playing a leading role in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for the standardization and subsequent across-the-board rollout. At Hannover Messe 2016, from April 25-29, Deutsche Telekom will demonstrate this future technology in a showcase featuring remote machinery maintenance.