The booming Internet of Things (IoT) is on course to double in just five years, growing from 15 billion connections in 2015 to nearly 31 billion by 2020 according to IDC. As the market has transitioned from potential to reality, it’s become clear that many emerging use cases may not be best served by existing cellular networks. The vast majority of new IoT connections are industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions that require low power wide area (LPWA) technologies to provide highly efficient connectivity, ubiquitous coverage and competitive subscription models for low bandwidth solutions. Industrial IoT applications may also require seamless coverage in remote environments where staying connected draws down battery power and shortens the lifespan of solutions meant to operate in the field for a decade or more. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology provides a promising solution.
What is Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)?
Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a new wireless technology that was standardised by 3GPP in 2016. It is fast emerging as the best in class LPWA technology to enable a wide range of new IIoT devices including smart parking, utilities, wearables, and industrial solutions. This is due to its ability to efficiently connect large fleets of devices, up to 50,000 per NB-IoT network cell, while minimising power consumption and increasing coverage range in locations not served by conventional cellular technologies.
How does NB-IoT better serve IIoT solutions?
NB-IoT greatly 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 a battery life of more than 10 years. In addition, NB-IoT penetrates deep underground and into enclosed spaces providing 20+dB coverage indoors.
Is NB-IoT secure?
The underlying technology is less complex than traditional cellular modules, which simplifies design, development, and deployment for OEMs. At the same time, it offers the same tried and true security and privacy features of LTE mobile networks including support for user identity confidentiality, entity authentication, data integrity, and mobile device identification.
When will NB-IoT connectivity modules be commercially available?
Gemalto and Huawei are leading the drive to accelerate NB-IoT and expand the marketplace by combining their core strengths in a strategic cooperation to develop connectivity modules. By leveraging Gemalto’s expertise in cellular connectivity and digital security with Huawei’s high-performance NB-IoT chipsets, a new breed of highly efficient LPWA IoT modules is helping manufacturers reduce the cost, size and efficiency of their devices. This comes just in time to meet surging demand for NB-IoT modules, which are forecast to account for 20 percent of all cellular shipments by 2021 according to ABI Research. The first NB-IoT commercial launches were completed in 2017 with global rollouts expected throughout 2018 and beyond.
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