Are you curious about IOT? Do you know the different flavors of IOT? Do you wonder why they use IOT and 5G interchangeably? Who would use this technology? Read on wireless tech fan if you want to find out.
Isn’t IOT just the internet of things? Do we need so many variations? YES! There are different flavors of IOT that are available. Each one has a different use case. The one thing that you learned about 5G is that it will be made up of HetNet. If you’re building out a network, look at NB-IOT as a very powerful tool in your war chest. Any of us could install a smart thermostat or light switch in our homes, right? While that is cool, it’s very limited, and anyone can do it. For IOT you will want to build a business plan around deploying the network to control thousands of meters for a utility, remote devices, alarms, track equipment, and more. A way for you to break the network down to each specialty item. For low-bandwidth, high battery life remote devices, this is perfect. Maybe open and close doors remotely in a building or track where all the equipment is in real-time, like for a corporate building or a hospital. Cool, right?
It is Narrowband Internet of Things which is, according to Wikipedia, “ is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard that has been developed to enable a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular telecommunications bands. NB-IoT is a narrowband radio technology designed for the Internet of Things(IoT), and is one of a range of Mobile IoT (MIoT) technologies standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).” So basically, it is a technology used for machines that have low data needs and don’t need to be connected all the time. The connection issue is so that the battery life I extended, hopefully, batteries will last ten years. By that time, you may replace the unit altogether because of the advances in technology.
Why do people use 5G and IOT interchangeably I do? It doesn’t make sense to me mainly because I look at 5G as the network and I look at IOT as a service. Now, IOT will be a big reason for deploying 5G. However, there is also NB IOT for applications in IOT devices.
The application is pretty specific. Let’s look at how they will be used and who will use them.
Let’s look at NB-IOT which I believe is above 3GPP release 13. Yes, 3GPP is developing this along with the IOT technologies, so it’s not a fly by night format. It is a low-power wide area network, LPWAN, format. It means just what it says, low power RF reaching many devices over a wide area. Its major focus is to reach low power devices, something that may need the battery to last over ten years. Limited bandwidth using 250 Kbps up and 250Kbps down. Very low-bandwidth. Not for video, or any high bandwidth application. A meter could report, “I’m reading 35 degrees Fahrenheit” or for the system to tell a relay to close or open. These are short data bursts that don’t require much data to send a simple machine language command. It is half duplex, meaning it will talk and then listen. The antennas are very simple, one transmit, and one receive, SISO which is single in single out. Transmit power is very low, 23dBm, around 200 milliwatts of power.
It is very limited, but how can it help I the IOT deployments? Who would use this? In large buildings, there could be a need for something like this to track equipment or open and close doors. It would be low latency and quick access because it would be a dedicated network. Most likely be an add-on to an existing network. It would be specifically to contact devices that you may only need to poll once a week or so. It’ss meant to communicate with objects that can give you a simple response or one that you could send a simple command. If you have a large outdoor network, then you could use this to extend it or talk to devices that run on the battery. Maybe even to use for security to send out an alert if it is tripped in a remote area. Look at this as another tool in your HetNet arsenal. A network that you could deploy cost-effectively to communicate with devices that are very remote or don’t have access to power.
There are several possibilities, like remote fence alarms, meters, equipment tracking, animal tracking, and more. An extension of the larger network.
The spectrum is an issue for me here in the USA because there is not dedicated spectrum that I found. It looks like anyone who may have narrowband spectrum may be able to use this. I did read that GSM spectrum would work. I don’t see much of that spectrum nationwide, but I am not sure if a nationwide deployment would be necessary. It looks like 200Khz of bandwidth would work for something like this. Would the GSM bands be re-farmed to run something like this? It could be, why not? What an opportunity to build something for IOT only.
While I said, this is part of the HetNet. There are attempts to build large networks to cover these specialty IOT circumstances. When you think of all the devices and systems that can benefit from a network like this. It could be more than just remote devices. Think about agriculture, metering, lighting control, smart city control and monitoring, and industrial equipment. See the value of a system that could keep these devices connected with extremely long battery life? Remember that these devices only need small data bytes to communicate. What a great opportunity for a new specialized network to be built.
All this when you thought small data networks were history. We need to connect everything, but we need to be smart about it. It means that we can build a better strategy for these specialized networks and hopefully we won’t overcharge customers like the carriers intend to. It makes better business sense to build a cost-effective system for these systems where they don’t want the bandwidth or constant connections. They want to have a connection for a few dollars a month. Here’s a great business plan!
Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!
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