Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard developed by 3GPP to enable a wide range of cellular devices and services. The specification was frozen in 3GPP Release 13 (LTE Advanced Pro), in June 2016. Other 3GPP IoT technologies include eMTC (enhanced Machine-Type Communication) and EC-GSM-IoT. NB-IoT significantly improves the power consumption of user devices, system capacity and spectrum efficiency, especially in deep coverage. Battery life of more than 10 years can be supported for a wide range of use cases.

NB‑IoT connects IoT devices more simply and efficiently on already established mobile networks, and handles small amounts of fairly infrequent 2‑way data, securely and reliably.

New physical layer signals and channels are designed to meet the demanding requirement of extended coverage – rural and deep indoors – and ultra-low device complexity. Initial cost of the NB-IoT modules is expected to be comparable to GSM/GPRS. The underlying technology is however much simpler than today’s GSM/GPRS and its cost is expected to decrease rapidly as demand increases.

Supported by all major mobile equipment, chipset and module manufacturers, NB-IoT can co-exist with 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks. It also benefits from all the security and privacy features of mobile networks, such as support for user identity confidentiality, entity authentication, confidentiality, data integrity, and mobile equipment identification. The first NB-IoT commercial launches have been completed and global roll out is expected for 2017/18.

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