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Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)

Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT) is a new way of communicating with “things” that require small amounts of data, over long periods, in hard to reach places.

What is Narrowband IoT?

Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT), also known as LTE Cat. NB1, is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology that works virtually anywhere. It connects devices more simply and efficiently on already established mobile networks, and handles small amounts of fairly infrequent 2‑way data, securely and reliably. And the best is, it provides:

  • very low power consumption
  • excellent penetration coverage
  • lower component costs 
     

NB‑IoT meets the challenges
We believe in a wireless future with secure, stable, and robust connectivity. Many potential “connected things” are located in remote or hard to reach areas, at long distances from the next cellular base station. When there is  coverage,  it  is often  poor and requires  the  device  transmitter  to  operate  at  high  power, draining the battery. Additionally, cellular networks are not optimized for applications that only transmit small amounts of infrequent data. Further, the existing cellular standards don’t support power saving capabilities, which makes these standards unsuitable for inexpensive devices that require battery lives of several years.

NB‑IoT will connect many more devices to the Internet of Things and make many new applications a reality. It is optimized for applications that need to communicate small amounts of data over long periods of time. Since it operates in licensed spectrum, it is secure and reliable providing guaranteed quality of service.

Using other cellular air interfaces for a typical NB‑IoT application would be too expensive, as NB‑IoT applications don’t need all their capabilities. NB‑IoT applications focus on low speed, robust data transfer, and an appropriate level of reliability. A low device price also cuts the installation cost and reduces  the risk of theft.

u‑blox - An Early Leader in NB‑IoT Technology
First pre‑standard NB‑IoT message sent over live network in Spain
Participated in joint pre‑standard trials with global operators around the world
Launched World's 1st NB‑IoT module

Future applications

NB‑IoT applications blog post

Smart metering

NB‑IoT is well suited for monitoring gas and water meters, via regular and small data transmissions. Network coverage is a key issue in smart metering rollouts. Meters have a very strong tendency to turn up in difficult locations, such as in cellars, deep underground or in remote rural areas. NB‑IoT has excellent coverage and penetration to address this issue.

Smart cities

NB‑IoT can help local government control street lighting, determine when waste bins need emptying, identify free parking spaces, monitor environmental conditions, and survey the condition of roads.

Smart buildings

NB‑IoT connected sensors can send alerts about building maintenance issues and perform automated tasks, such as light and heat control. NB‑IoT can also act as the backup for the building broadband connection. Some security solutions may even use LPWA networks to connect sensors directly to the monitoring system, as this configuration is more difficult for an intruder to disable as well as easier to install and maintain.

Consumers

NB‑IoT will provide wearable devices with their own long‑range connectivity, which is particularly beneficial for people and animal tracking. Similarly, NB‑IoT can also be used for health monitoring of those suffering from chronic or age‑related conditions.

Agricultural and environmental

NB‑IoT connectivity will offer farmers tracking possibilities, so that a sensor containing a u‑blox NB‑IoT module can send an alert if an animal’s movement is out of the ordinary. Such sensors could be used to monitor the temperature and humidity of soil, and in general to keep track of attributes of land, pollution, noise, rain, etc.

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Products

SARA
Coverage and power consumption optimized NB-IoT modules