Narrowband IoT: the network for medium-sized companies



Reading time

6 minutes


Peter Gaspar

Cars, machines, household appliances: More and more "things" are interconnected. This is made possible by wireless connections such as WLAN or LTE. But what about in cities or rural areas, where the network connection often weakens? Peter Gaspar, Solution Architect at A1 Digital, explains how Narrowband-IoT can fill these gaps and pave the way for mass applications in the Internet of Things.

As soon as you arrive in the city center, the app will show you free parking lots on your smartphone. You can navigate there directly and park - without annoying search for parking lots and senselessly traveled car minutes. This is made possible by a new wireless technology for the Internet of Things: Narrowband IoT, or NB-IoT for short. This means that sensors in the car parks are able to send information via so-called low-power wide-area technology, which indicates whether a parking lot is free or occupied. But not only that: "With Narrowband IoT, we also network items and machines where conventional mobile communications can no longer go: behind concrete walls, in cellars, parking garages or in large buildings," says Peter Gaspar, who deals with the topic of narrowband IoT at A1 Digital.

This is Narrowband IoT

Narrowband-IoT is a new network designed specifically for the Internet of Things (IoT). It is based on the international 3GPP standard and is used to transfer small amounts of data in the Internet of Things. "NB-IoT is currently one of the hottest innovations in the field of machine-to-machine communication," says Peter Gaspar, Solution Architect at A1 Digital. "Thanks to their low frequency, NB IoT modules can not only send their signals over long distances. Using simplified wireless technology, these signals are also capable of penetrating thick walls, "says the 41-year-old, who, together with his team, supports customers in implementing NB-IoT projects. "What's more, this radio technology transmits only small data packages with more frequent repetitions, so that even deep in buildings or in remote rural areas, a radio link can be established," says Gaspar. The rest of the time the modules are in an energy-saving mode. Thus, they do not need their own battery cells but maintain operation with standard battery cells for up to ten years.

That’s why Narrowband-IoT

With today's networks such as LTE, data rates are increasing more and more, up to several hundred megabits (MBit) per second. Peter Gaspar: "Narrowband IoT is exactly the opposite, because NB-IoT only supports a few kilobits (KBit) per second." But for the small and simple sensors used in the Internet of Things, such data rates are already sufficient "The expert says and gives an example:" A water meter only sends its meter reading every few days and therefore only needs a few kilobits per day. "

From smart parking to smart metering: where NB-IoT can be used

The application possibilities and potentials of Narrowband in the Internet of Things are diverse: from products for the smart home or the smart city to applications for Industry 4.0.

Keyword Smart Parking: Smart parking sensors reduce traffic in our cities by transmitting the location of free parking.

Keyword Smart Waste Management: With smart systems, the waste management companies can work more efficiently and reduce costs, for example by transferring fill levels.

Keyword Smart Metering: Smart meters lower costs and improve service quality by remotely analyzing the sensors.

Keyword Environment: Affordable, battery-powered environmental sensors can be used at non-powered locations to capture air quality and provide data for more accurate forecasts and actions.

In addition, A1 Digital not only provides its customers with future-proof technologies, but also a team of business consultants and architects to help customers develop their IoT-based business models.

The A1 Digital IoT Lab: Working together to develop NB-IoT-based solutions

"A1 Digital has been actively involved in the development of Narrowband IoT for quite some time," says Peter Gaspar. "This enables us to prepare the network-wide rollout of the technology. At the same time, we offer medium-sized customers the necessary support in the development of NB-IoT-based solutions. "The focus is on the A1 Digital IoT Lab. "With this lab, we can jointly test and analyze prototype-relevant IoT solutions for our customers - with full control over wireless network processes, data communications, power requirements, and IoT platforms." The IoT engineers help with the setup Location, prepare test cases with customers and assist them with technology questions. And on request, customers receive exclusive access to the IoT Lab.

The question arises, why all this? Peter Gaspar: "Device networking is critical to the success of any IoT project. Long runtimes of the devices, high scalability at low costs and a deep building penetration are the essential success factors. And it is precisely at these points that we want to support our customers in their IoT projects. Only then will we open the way for mass applications in the Internet of Things. "

Interview: „All customers can benefit from the lab“

Peter Gaspar, Solution Architect at A1 Digital, explains how Narrowband-IoT drives the Internet of Things and how entrepreneurs can benefit from it.

What significance does Narrowband-IoT have for the German SMBs?

Small and medium-sized businesses need Narrowband-IoT as a basis to make the Internet of Things suitable for the mass market. Only with NB-IoT do many manufacturing entrepreneurs have the opportunity to efficiently network their products and equipment such as machines, containers, building components or tools. This will enable them to create new customer relationships and business models. This is precisely where NB-IoT comes in as a reasonably priced basic technology for the Internet of Things.

How does A1 Digital help customers who want to use NB-IoT in their businesses?

Firstly, we support customers in the evaluation of the appropriate transmission technology according to the requirements of their application. On the other hand, together with our customers we define the lifecycle of the product and offer the appropriate data tariffs for it. Furthermore, we enable the optimization of our customers' devices in the A1 Digital IoT Lab.

For whom is the IoT Lab?

The Lab is aimed at all A1 Digital customers and partners who want to design, develop or integrate with Narrowband IoT products into existing product solutions.

What exactly can customers test in the IoT Lab?

With the IoT Lab, we enable our customers to test in a realistic end-to-end environment. For example, you can perform narrowband IoT tests, such as consumption or bandwidth measurements, under various network coverage scenarios. They also benefit from professional certification services through our expert teams.

Which concrete test infrastructure does the IoT Lab offer?

Failure analysis in the Internet of Things presents entrepreneurs with new challenges. With the A1 Digital Tracing & Analysis Equipment our customers can test their "Things" individually as well as in interaction with different IoT platforms. This allows customers to spot flaws in their products in good time and prepare them better for production. To do this, together with partners like Nokia, we are researching new products for NB-IoT and the Internet of Things.

Iot narrowband interviewee 600x600

Peter Gaspar

Solution Architect