Analyzing power consumption in cellular IoT systems

April 03, 2020 // By Peter Macejko
Analysing power consumption in cellular IoT systems
Peter Macejko, Wireless Specialist at Anritsu, looks at techniques for analyzing power consumption of cellular devices in the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) covers a wide range of devices, ranging in size, dedicated to a particular task and increasingly found everywhere. They can be divided into three main categories based on their application – consumer, enterprise and industrial.

The consumer oriented IoT devices are widely known – smart TVs, smart speakers, wearables, toys and many more enhance our daily lives and bring us entertainment. On the other hand, there are devices such as smart meters, traffic/weather monitors, smart thermostats, smart lights and others which make our life more comfortable and reduce costs by helping us make better use of energy. These kinds of devices are driven by enterprises and industry.

Figure 1: NB-IoT Water Meter

One key factor in IoT is the power consumption of the devices themselves. This is even more true with the enterprise and industrial categories. An IoT device may be installed at a site to carry out work for many years to come and is often equipped with a battery which cannot be replaced. This means that the end of the battery’s life also means the end of the device’s life. With a device’s lifetime reaching up to 10 or more years, particularly in the case of 5G mobile networks, engineers need to make sure a battery can last in the field for as long as possible.

However, 5G networks are still not widely deployed, being more commonly used as private industry test networks. Most of the cellular IoT devices today still operate on the previous cellular generation, namely LTE technology.

With LTE, we have two options - the LPWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Network) standard based on LTE is known as NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things). This standard focuses on indoor coverage with its often-high network density. The emphasis is also on a long battery life for devices.

Next: IoT standards

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