Testing LPWAN IoT technology: An essential step to a connected future: Page 3 of 4

September 13, 2018 //By Viavi Solutions
Testing LPWAN IoT technology: An essential step to a connected future
We’re well-aware of the billions of connected devices predicted to be in circulation in the coming years as part of the expanding IoT ecosystem. We’ve heard about – and seen trials of – innovative applications in myriad industries, and we’re continually learning of the new cost efficiencies and socio-economic benefits the IoT will deliver. Dr. Hayk Manukyan, Market Solutions Director, VIAVI Solutions (from the recently acquired Cobham Wireless Validation business), examines how we can sustainably and effectively connect this environment, and what operators must do to prepare their networks.

Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) is suitable for deployment in licensed spectrum and directly compatible with existing LTE and future 5G NR networks. Many operators’ existing base stations can support NB-IoT with a software upgrade, removing the need to replace or add new hardware. It’s no surprise then that many operators including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom as well as China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom (all with strong government backing), consider NB-IoT to be a game changer for IoT.

The channel bandwidth of NB-IoT is only 200KHz (180KHz, plus guard bands). This makes it suitable for channel reforming; it can be deployed ‘in-band’ alongside spectrum guarded by an operator for LTE. This makes it possible for operators’ NB-IoT/LTE networks to accommodate a huge number of IoT devices – such as smart electricity meters, parking lots, tracking and logistics, security alarms and weather warning systems – without compromising the performance of regular mobile devices connected to the network.

The standard boasts low-power consumption and deep in-building penetration and supports high numbers of simultaneously operating units. Smart meters, for instance, can be connected to the internet via NB-IoT, with units placed anywhere within a building without the problem of infrastructure blocking signal. Data from thousands of meters can be sent quickly and accurately to the energy company, and timely, precise billing information then sent to the customer.

For the IoT to be viable in the long-term and on a global scale, energy efficiency is crucial. It’s been claimed that the NB-IoT will enable ten-year life from a single-cell battery – which the majority of end-points will likely be powered by. This, in addition to the simplicity of the technology, will ensure operating and device costs remain low.

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