Power Class 5 (20 dBm) approved by 3GPP for NB-IoT applications

u-blox, a global leader in wireless and positioning modules and chips, in collaboration with Neul has convinced its peers of the need for an extra power class for devices used in Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) applications.

As a result, a maximum transmit power of 20 dBm has been approved on the occasion of the latest 3GPP RAN working group meeting ramping up to the 3GPP Release 13 of NB-IoT standards in June. This additional power class with lower maximum transmitted power could help to reduce the peak current consumption from the battery, hence enabling NB-IoT to be suitable for a wider range of IoT applications, such as wearables and tracking.

NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology for IoT applications, available for deployment over existing mobile networks, in licensed radio spectrum. These applications have low data rates, require long battery lives and operate unattended for long periods of time, often in remote locations. In many use cases of NB-IoT applications, no local power supply is available, either for convenience (water meter, tracker, covert security sensor, outdoor sensor) or safety (gas meter) reasons. The operational justification for an application also often depends on not having to visit a location to replace a battery as the cost of a “truck roll” is high.

Batteries for long life applications, up to 10 years for some utility meters, are therefore crucial. They must also be small to fit into all IoT devices and be able to operate at very low temperatures.

For more information about NB-IoT at u-blox:

NB-IoT / CAT M2 standard nears completion

By Simon Glassman – Senior Principal, Strategic Partnerships
IoT is fast becoming a reality, and requirements including narrow bandwidth, low power and reliable connectivity are all issues – hear how NB-IoT is addressing these problems.

For the last couple of years, u-blox has cooperated with Vodafone and Huawei to develop and demo the new Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT) technology. NB‑IoT is an emerging Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology that works over existing cellular infrastructure. Providing a simple means of connecting devices that send and receive small amounts of fairly infrequent data, NB‑IoT enables coverage in hard to reach places, as well as support for high numbers of low throughput, ultra-low cost devices.

As it stands, the NB‑IoT standards are nearing completion, a feat that has been achieved in record time. Only in September 2015 did 3GPP agree a common approach for NB-IoT deployment of LPWA networks using the licensed operator spectrum, and release of the standard is expected by June 2016.

Notably, a short development time doesn’t mean a half-baked standard. NB‑IoT is well defined, with a lot of work having taken place to guarantee low device power consumption and an optimized solution architecture – both key to the ultimate success of NB‑IoT. Leading lights behind the NB-IoT Forum have placed high importance on testing NB-IoT technology in real-world scenarios, such as the successful demonstration in Spain in November 2015 when the first pre-standard NB-IoT message was sent to a u-blox module installed in a test device located in water meter locations

Water meters are the perfect example of a host of monitoring devices that involve hard-to-reach locations. For example in basements, underground or behind metal covers, where no mains power is available and where typically other types of signal would be unable to reach. Other applications range from building automation, people and animal tracking, to ‘smart city’ technologies, where NB-IoT could help local government control street lighting, determine when waste bins need emptying, identify free parking spaces and survey road conditions. Battery life of 10 years and more will be expected from all these devices. u-blox labels these kinds of applications as the ‘Internet of Things that Really Matter’ i.e. business-critical applications with good business reasons for adopting this technology.

Take our Waste Management Route Optimization demo for Mobile World Congress 2016, for example. The system brings together pre-standard NB-IoT with u-blox Bluetooth low energy enabled sensors and Bluetooth/Wi-Fi IoT gateway module, supported by an ARM mbed application environment and a cloud based analytics. The system detects when bins are opened and closed, and are thus full or empty, and communicates this via NB-IoT to the cloud. The optimal route for a waste collection vehicle is then calculated, thus minimizing route distance and reducing fuel costs, carbon emissions and the duration of a waste collection.

In a bid to bring NB-IoT rapidly to commercialization, a number of mobile operators and network infrastructure providers are creating ‘NB-IoT Open Labs. Providing the right environment for the creation and support of an NB-IoT eco-system, the NB-IoT Open Labs will facilitate end-to-end development and interoperability testing for application developers, systems integrators and services providers. u-blox’s NB-IoT evaluation kits and modules are being made available to the Labs. [Interested customers can contact us today for our pre-standard NB-IoT kits and modules.]

Here at u-blox, we believe in a wireless future with secure, stable, and robust connectivity and as such, consider that NB-IoT has relevance to anyone building a connected device. With the head-start we have made with NB-IoT, we are committed to playing our part in ensuring that first commercial deployments of NB-IoT are on track for early 2017.

u-blox & the Need for NB-IoT


U-Blox & the Need for NB-IoT


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