NB-IOT: Paradigm Shift in Industrial IOT

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Enabling a New Wave of Industrial Connectivity
  2. How to Deepen Coverage & Offer Ubiquitous Connectivity?
  3. Monitoring and Aligning Stimulated Results
  4. How a Collaborative Approach Can Aid Coverage & Seamless connectivity?

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is Open RAN?

Recap

In continuation of the earlier blog, we had highlighted the key challenges in terms of battery life which hampers the adoption of IIOT infrastructure. Here, are some more deterrent factor which impede the IIOT growth in remote areas where network coverage is utmost critical

Enabling a New Wave of Industrial Connectivity

The NB-IoT standard has a capability to offer maximum coverage of 23 dB against LTE. However, the coverage is highly reliant based network deployment & configuration. The key limitations of NB-IoT coverage are based on the performance of the IoT devices and network equipment, network design, deployment & configuration as well as interoperability amongst devices platforms. Thus, the real coverage gains are likely to be limited.

How to Deepen Coverage & Offer Ubiquitous Connectivity?

For the faster adoption of IIOT, seamless coverage in remote locations or the terrains which are yet in-accessible particularly indoors or underground applications are paramount. For instance, a wireless sensor at the underground smart parking facility needs network coverage to trigger a notification in case of parking availability. Similarly, smart meters and other IOT sensors which are employed into the basement or deep in-building needed adequate coverage to transfer data. In both cases, deep coverage and access are requisite for smooth functioning which LTE network fails to deliver.

Hence, coverage needs to be augmented with NB-IoT standard, which has a capability to offer maximum coverage of 23 dB over LTE. However, the coverage is highly reliant on the network deployment & its configuration. The key limitations of NB-IoT coverage are based on the IoT’s devices performance, network equipment, network design as well as interoperability amongst devices platforms. Thus, the real coverage gains may be limited in real world scenarios.

To strengthen their coverage and optimised cost, operators can deploy NB-IOT along with the existing LTE infrastructure, to attain deeper in-building or underground coverage. Although, the coverage boost in NB-IoT comes at the expense of Quality of Service.

Monitoring and Aligning Stimulated Results

The device manufacturer needs to stimulate various RF scenarios which include remote areas, underground installation and other industrial environment. This is paramount as RF conditions are quite unique in each use case scenario. Once, the IIOT network established, the service provider needs to perform a field tests to ensure the simulated results are aligned with real-time conditions. These results provide the necessary parameters which allow optimizing network coverage as well as ensure optimal Quality of Service (QoS).

How a Collaborative Approach Can Aid Coverage & Seamless connectivity?

NB-IoT holds great potential in rapidly expanding in Industrial IOT. However, the success of NB-IoT devices depend significantly on various elements across the value chain viz. network design, OEMs, device manufacturer and service providers. A collective effort will likely to address key challenges in terms of battery life and network coverage. Moreover, performing field tests enable to assess the actual performance of the network, which is essential for the function IoT network. Thus, collaborative and joint efforts within the ecosystem will lead to the success of NB-IOT which in turn enhances coverage and seamless connectivity.

NB-IOT is characterised by enhanced indoor coverage, support number of low throughput devices, low delay sensitivity, low power consumption, optimised network architecture, and is ultra-cost efficient.

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is Open RAN?

From a deployment standpoint, we have Non-Standalone Mode(NSA), Dynamic Spectrum Sharing(DSS), and Standalone Mode (SA). The initial deployments of 5G NR are based on NSA standards, meaning the existing 4G LTE network will operate on the control plane, and 5G NR will be introduced to the user plane.

This particular standard was introduced by 3GPP, keeping in mind the industry’s push to faster 5G services rollout while utilizing the existing 4G LTE infrastructure currently in place. On the other hand, operators are also implementing Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to accelerate the deployment cycle, which will reduce costs and improve spectrum utilization. In this standard, the same spectrum is shared between the 5G NR and 4G LTE, multiplexing over time per user demands. Lastly, we have the Standalone Mode (SA), which moves towards a complete 5G based network where both signaling and the information transfer are driven by a 5G cell.

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