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Functions, Benefits, and Applications of NB IoT

The group of some LPWA network protocols and standards (LPWAN) includes NB IoT. Various IoT communication wireless standards that facilitate the use of battery-powered devices for transmitting over a WAN (wide area network), which in this particular instance wireless WAN or WWAN, with fairly low power (thus the “LP” in the name) for infrequent, primarily transmissions of small volumes of data go by this name.

What Is Narrowband IoT (NB IoT)?

A wireless IoT protocol known as narrowband IoT, denoted as NB-IoT uses a wide area network of low power (LPWAN). It was created by the 3GPP for use in cellular wireless communications, which makes a variety of innovative NB-IoT products and services possible. One of three primary 3GPP LPWAN specifications is NB-IoT.

It is distributed across current or dedicated LTE networks over the resource blocks, or network resources. Connecting individuals and organizations to small data-transmitting devices may be made possible via NB IoT. Since they may operate in the sleep mode for extended periods of time, these gadgets use less energy.

IoT-enabled devices are becoming more prevalent as a result of its improvements in interior coverage, energy consumption, and maintenance. By 2030, there would be more than 29 billion connected IoT devices, according to experts. Expanding the range of coverage beyond what is now possible with cellular technologies is among the objectives of NB-IoT. To do this, NB-IoT supports uplink transmission repeats and various bandwidth allotment options.

A wide variety of innovative IoT gadgets and services can be made possible via NB-IoT. In areas that are difficult to cover by conventional cellular technologies, the NB-IoT increases system capacity as well as bandwidth efficiency while reducing the connected devices’ power consumption.  For several use cases, NB-IoT devices, the life of their batteries may last over 10 years.

How Does NB IoT Work?

NB IOT Advantages

A standard for data transmission called NB-IoT was created to allow devices to function in the carrier networks for mobile. Signals with low bandwidth are used by NB-IoT technology to communicate inside the framework of LTE and GSM technologies.

The fundamental elements of NB-IoT systems are specially constructed gadgets and sensors. These gadgets gather data from their environment and send it to transmission nodes or base stations that support NB-IoT.

For central monitoring as well as data processing, each base station is connected onto the IoT cloud application and gateway servers.

While enabling relatively simple devices, NB-IoT uses new physical layers containing channels and signals to satisfy the demands of wide coverage in remote locations and deep interiors. Comparatively speaking, the fundamental technology of the GSM/GPRS modules is substantially simpler.

NB-IoT can coexist with 4G, 3G, and 2G mobile networks thanks to support from all major manufacturers of mobile hardware, chipsets, and modules.

Benefits of NB IoT

Longer battery life and wider coverage are features of NB-IoT. It’s great for the smart city applications like automated parking meters and streetlights.

Enhanced Area of Coverage

Where does the NB-IoT fit while wireless technologies are developed? Although useful, short-range radio technologies like Bluetooth® have an excessively large bandwidth. Additionally, they fall short in applications that call for a broad geographic range. Although more expensive, the LTE-M technology can provide wider coverages.

Low-bitrate technology known as NB IoT is essential to 4G as well as 5G networks. Applications that require extensive coverage can use it. Deep inside and underground spaces can now be covered by NB-IoT thanks to its radio as well as data technologies.

Additional Battery Life

Better device possibilities result from less power usage. Radio waveforms will use less power if it is simpler. Less power is used because to the smart power-saving options and the straightforward waveform technology of NB-IoT.

When all the power-saving recommendations are followed, NB-IoT modems offer battery life of over 10 years. Businesses would replace batteries on less occasions as a result, saving money on maintenance as well as operating expenses.

Low-cost and reliable technology

More devices can be connected for less money with more flexible placement. The technology makes use of licensed spectrum that is governed by global standards. Most nations throughout the world have access to NB-IoT networks. It is less expensive and easier to integrate a NB-IoT module in the device or sensor. Many devices are able to connect via a cellular infrastructure that supports it, which also reduces maintenance and security expenses.

Application Areas of NB-IoT


The following uses for NB-IoT are possible:

Smart Metering

The NB-IoT is effective for monitoring gas and water meters through routine, modest data broadcasts. Because meters are frequently located in challenging areas, network coverage can be a big issue when implementing smart meters, like deep underground seen in rural areas or cellars. The penetration and coverage of NB-IoT can address the problem.

Smart Cities

Local governments can benefit from using NB-IoT to manage street lights, schedule trash bin emptyings, locate open parking spaces, track environmental conditions, as well as inspect the condition of roads.

Smart structures

Facilities managers can receive notifications about concerns with building upkeep through a NB-IoT connected sensor. Systems that use NB-IoT sensors in measuring indoor temperature are also available. The NB-IoT network can support the broadband connection of a building.

Whenever continuous tracking is really not required, using NB-IoT tracking offers a safe, affordable approach to locate individuals, animals, and property. Tracking things that might not always be in motion is a good use for NB-IoT.

Smart farming

Farmers and towns can collect environmental sensors data equipped with NB-IoT modules which can send signals if anything unusual occur thanks to NB-IoT connectivity. These sensors can be utilized to track the characteristics of the pollution, land, noise, rain, and the humidity and temperature of soil.

Limitations of NB-IoT


Movement of device is limited. NB-IoT devices are only ever connected to a network operator and a limited environment. Limitations may result for applications like wearables that go beyond predetermined boundaries. If the operator of any wearable device does not possess a specific local presence, the device can become useless if the user reaches another nation.

Limited data transmission

Due to NB-limited IoT’s daily data transmission capacity below a kilobyte, or around one text message, video or voice transmission isn’t an alternative. In comparison to alternative technologies, the upload rate of NB-IoT data is low, at about 20 Kbps. Also, it has a bandwidth of 200 KHz.

Absence of proof of concept

It’s challenging to judge whether the technology is already successful since commercial rollouts are so sparse.

Comparing LTE-M and NB-IoT

Although LTE-M and NB-IoT are comparable in many aspects, they also differ significantly in a few key areas.

Compared to NB-IoT, LTE-M offers higher data speeds and lower latency (this is the time taken for a specific device to be able to connect to any network and receive or send a message). Due of these features, LTE-M can handle voice communications coupled with data communications and Internet of Things (IoT) applications that require greater real-time connections, such as precision tracking and control of the power grid.

Despite recent mobility improvements in Cat-NB2, LTE-M offers significantly higher performance for IoT applications over NB-IoT.

LTE-M is more advantageous for IoT applications that require more data because of its quicker speeds. LTE-M also benefits from the box roaming, or the capacity to utilize a SIM from one network operator onto the network of another operator abroad, as a logical extension of the 4G LTE.

Despite this, there are certain benefits of NB-IoT over LTE-M. The majority of network operators had also deployed the NB-IoT networks of technologies that offer quality coverage improvements as opposed to the LTE-M networks of technologies that only provide calculated improvements, even though both NB-IoT and LTE-M offer better coverage compared to other technologies.

This result in different NB-IoT networks offering better coverage compared to LTE-M in the real world in office buildings, warehouses, as well as underground locations whereby signal loss as well as many obstruction layers could result in connectivity issues.

Due to these benefits, NB-IoT is a fantastic option for straightforward, static, and low-data applications of IoT.

What is the Difference Between Cat-M1 and NB-IoT?

NB-IoT as well as Cat-M1 are the two principal technologies that enable extensive IoT deployments. While both NB-IoT and the Cat-M1 are 3GPP defined technologies, they focus on various use cases according to their respective advantages.

Devices with very-low complexity with a 200 kHz bandwidth are supported by NB-IoT. The rate of data peaks at about 250 kilobits a second due to its small bandwidth. Contrarily, Cat-M1 has a bandwidth of 1.4 MHz, has more complicated devices, and is more expensive than the NB IoT.


The game was different with NB IoT. Given that different formats have been offered since 2014, you can claim it is “new.” It was created to provide an improved cellular alternative to current non-cellular standards and supports a variety of market scenarios outside of the US. It reuses various LTE-derived techniques.

Deployments of NB IoT have been and continue to be delayed. For some reasons, some operators adopt the wait-and-see approach.




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