Narrowband IoT Connectivity - A Guide to NB-IoT

IoT glossary

Narrowband IoT Connectivity - A Guide to NB-IoT

What is Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)?

Narrowband IoT or NB-IoT is a type of low-power wide-area cellular technology that is crucial for connecting IoT devices. NB-IoT can be deployed over existing cellular LTE networks such as 4G or via dedicated channels. NB-IoT is the ideal solution for connecting devices that transact small amounts of data and require long battery life where mains power is not available or may not be suitable for the type of deployment. Unlike traditional cellular networks, NB-IoT operates efficiently in environments with limited coverage, making it suitable for various applications, including smart cities, agriculture, healthcare, and industrial automation.

What is the difference between NB-IoT and LTE-M?

NB-IoT is a cellular standard that is customised for IoT applications. Unlike LTE-M, NB-IoT does not offer full mobility or voice capabilities. However, NB-IoT consumes less power compared to LTE-M because it provides lower data rates and a simpler cellular protocol such as UDP.

The low-power nature of NB-IoT enables devices to operate in Power Saving Mode (PSM) and extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX), which extends the battery life and makes it possible to create multiyear solutions for IoT applications.

Latency1.5–10 seconds50–100 msec
Power consumptionBest at medium data rateBest at low data rate
Supports cell handoverNoYes
Coverage penetrationHigh: designed for better in building penetrationModerate: operates the same as LTE
Network compatibility4G4G
Data rate~200 kbps1 Mbps
Bandwidth200 kHz1.4 MHz

What are common applications for NB-IoT SIM cards?

Devices and applications that need to transmit low volumes of data, require a long battery life, and potentially need a wide range of coverage are the perfect use cases for NB-IoT SIM cards.

NB-IoT SIM cards for SMART meters

Energy companies rely on continuous connectivity with both domestic and commercial smart meters to retrieve accurate usage data. Ensuring prolonged battery life and minimising field maintenance is crucial for these meters. NB-IoT SIM cards emerge as the ideal solution for gas meters due to their low-power technology, enabling extended battery longevity and reducing the need for frequent maintenance.

One of the standout features of NB-IoT SIM cards is their extensive coverage, reaching even the most remote areas. This expansive coverage is vital for energy companies as smart meters are often deployed in diverse locations, including remote and challenging terrains. The reliability of NB-IoT connectivity ensures that smart meters placed in these areas remain seamlessly connected, guaranteeing the consistent flow of usage data.

NB-IoT SIM cards provide energy companies with a dependable, low-power, and cost-effective connectivity solution. By leveraging this technology, energy companies can maintain accurate monitoring of smart meters across various environments, enhancing operational efficiency and enabling precise billing processes.

NB-IoT SIM cards for SMART cities

SMART interconnected cities are no longer the future. Instead, they are here with everything from traffic lights to street lighting now connected to the internet. NB-IoT technology has paved the way for a range of innovative applications in SMART cities, enabling efficient and intelligent management of resources.

In connected cities, there are a range of applications for NB-IoT SIM cards from SMART lighting which when equipped with NB-IoT sensors can adjust their brightness based on ambient light conditions and traffic to SMART waste management which can monitor water quality, detect leaks, and measure water levels in reservoirs and rivers to ensure water levels can be effectively managed and distributed where required.

NB-IoT SIM cards in healthcare

NB-IoT SIM cards emerge as the optimal solution for a diverse array of healthcare applications, enabling transformative advancements in patient care. The integration of NB-IoT SIM cards facilitates remote patient monitoring, offering vital connectivity for wearable devices and medical sensors. Crucial health metrics including heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, and more can be securely transmitted to healthcare providers in real time. This seamless flow of data empowers healthcare professionals to take timely, preventative actions upon detecting abnormal readings, ensuring proactive and personalised patient interventions. In care homes, NB-IoT SIM cards can be used in fall detection monitors, ensuring that in the event of an elderly patient falling, suitable help and medical intervention can be made without delay.

NB-IoT SIM cards from Cellhire

Cellhire is one of the leading IoT connectivity providers, offering a range of solutions including NB-IoT SIM cards. We offer unparalleled data solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of our customs, using our powerful Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) services on Orange France.

Our innovative data connectivity solutions are designed to empower your projects with seamless communication and efficient operations.

Our IoT solution includes:

  • Access to 4 UK networks;
  • Un-steered solutions that connect to the strongest network;
  • Security with static IP (private & public), SSL;
  • VPN and IPSEC options;
  • Protection that permits permanent roaming;
  • Commercials that improve margin at the same rate across UK & EU;
  • A SIM management portal that provides access to live data.
Last Modified: 09/11/2023
Written by: Dan McDonnell