Narrow-Band IoT: A network designed for the ‘simple things’ in life

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Newly finalized standardized solution to enable the Internet of Things for the mass markets.

Deutsche Telekom has an excellent market position in the areas of M2M and IoT, and is making an active contribution to shaping new business models as well as the underlying technological requirements and trends. One such game-changer is the Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT). It is one of the most widely discussed innovations in M2M communication for the Internet of Things, with analysts anticipating around three billion LPWA connections by 2023.

With its unique capabilities, NB-IoT meets the low bandwidth application requirements for many new use cases in industrial, public, and consumer domains. By offering lower costs, long battery life (up to 10 years) and deep indoor penetration (+20dB compared to GSM), it addresses a mass market, which cannot be efficiently served by existing technologies. Applications include smart parking, smart metering or smart waste management. A further benefit of NB-IoT is that it will be deployed in operator managed licensed spectrum, which enables a secure and reliable solution for customers. As the technology is based on 3GPP standard, it also supports our customers’ international businesses.

Infinite usage scenarios

Companies using NB-IoT technology can strengthen their competitive position by offering improved services to customers, while alsooptimizing their own costs. Some examples include:

  • Smart waste management: Measuring the filling level of waste containers with mounted sensors. Collection routes can then be optimized according to the filling level. Hence, waste management companies can optimize logistic costs. End-customers benefit from paying only for their actual waste production and avoid full or overflowing waste bins.
  • Smart metering: Remote reading of utility meters in people’s homes creates greater convenience for customers, while reducing costs for companies in smart metering, e.g. labor costs for manual reading.
  • Pet finder: For locating missing pets. A dog collar is equipped with an NB-IoT module, so that the dog’s position can be found on a map. Pet owners will be provided with an effective, low cost solution to find their pets.
  • Smart Parking: A large portion of the city traffic today is caused by drivers searching for parking spaces. Connected parking sensors, which transmit whether a parking space is free or occupied, enable drivers to find free parking spots (e.g. by using an app). The solution reduces so called search traffic and improves parking space utilization, thus reducing environmental damage by pollution whilst helping drivers to save time.

Standardization is key to future development

A healthy IoT ecosystem used by a multitude of manufacturers with roaming options across borders can only be achieved based on established international standards in licensed spectrum. This guarantees service availability, reliability and security of available solutions for the IoT customer.

Therefore, Deutsche Telekom has led the efforts within 3GPP and GSMA to promote the global standardization of future cellular technologies for the IoT market. The 3GPP specifications have been completed in June 2016 (Rel-13). Furthermore, trial and pre-commercial systems were implemented in 2015. In October 2015, Deutsche Telekom achieved the world’s first implementation of a pre-standard NB-IoT system on a commercial network. Commercial networks that support international roaming will emerge from 2017 onwards, dependent on requirements from the IoT market.

Deutsche Telekom has also recently established its NB-IoT Prototyping Hub to jump-start the ecosystem around the NB-IoT technology. The NB-IoT Prototyping Hub lays the foundation for the industry to accelerate the market and supply new innovative use cases to the end customers.