IoT Blog
IoT Blog

The Rise of Narrowband LTE IoT Technologies to Meet Tomorrow’s Massive IoT Needs

By Danny Tseng, Staff Manager, Technical Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

We are at the dawn of 5G, a unified network envisioned to connect virtually everything around us. 5G will transform and redefine our world, and by the year 2035, it is expected to generate more than $12T worth of goods and services globally across a broad range of industries. Connecting the massive IoT requires cellular solutions that can also scale down in complexity, but that will not happen overnight; it will require further technology innovations and collaborations from the entire mobile industry.

While we are accelerating 5G NR – the global 5G standard – to usher in next generation mobile broadband experiences for enhanced mobile broadband deployments in 2019 which can also address the needs of high-performance IoT use cases—how will we realize this vision of connecting the massive IoT? To be clear, 5G will connect more than just the high-end mobile devices like smartphones and video cameras, but it will also be the connectivity fabric for much simpler devices that require to operate with extreme efficiency, such as water meters and temperature sensors. And to support 10’s of billions of IoT devices is not a simple task; it requires our networks to scale up and down efficiently for the wide range of applications, provide ubiquitous connectivity even in the most challenging locations, and allow our devices to be ultra power-efficient and low-complexity.

To get there, two complementary narrowband LTE IoT technologies – eMTC (also known as LTE-M) & NB-IoT – were introduced in 3GPP Rel-13 to address the low cost/power, low-throughput, delay-tolerant IoT use cases. And their continued evolution in Rel-14 and beyond is bringing further complementary enhancements that will meet tomorrow’s IoT connectivity needs. This includes not only efficiency enhancements that reduce power consumption and increase device density, but also adding new features that are critical to the low-power, wide-area IoT, such as multicast for OTA FW upgrades and device positioning for asset location tracking. And the LTE IoT technology evolution will continue beyond Rel-15 to bring even better efficiencies and capabilities.

So, you may ask, where are we on this journey to connecting the massive IoT? Today, we are already delivering commercial LTE IoT multimode solutions that support both Cat-M1 and Cat-NB1, which start to connect a wide range of low-power IoT devices in 2017. And mobile operators around the globe are picking up momentum supporting LTE IoT in their networks. The future of LTE IoT is bright, and we are excited to be a part of it. Want to learn more? Come hear us talk about LTE IoT, 5G, and what’s on the horizon for the Internet of Things at the Sierra Wireless Innovation Summit in Paris on June 13th, 2017.