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3GPP’s New IoT Standard NB-IoT to Provide Cellular Alternative to LPWA Technology: A Report

Monday, July 4, 2016

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AUSTIN, TX: ABI Research, a market research company, in its latest report states 3GPP’s new IoT standards will account for more than 50% of cellular IoT radio node unit shipments by 2021 out of which 70% of Release 13 shipments and one-third of all cellular IoT shipments will be occupied by NB-IoT  (Narrow Band IoT).

NB-IoT is a part of 3GPP’s new cellular LTE-based IoT standards which also includes Cat-M1 and EC-GSM. These IoT standards from 3GPP offer a cellular alternate to proprietary unlicensed Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWA) technologies which include Ingenu, LoRa, and SIGFOX.

According to ABI Research, these new standards make configuration of LTE network easier through a simple software upgrade to the existing LTE radio interface and are estimated by ABI Research analysts to rapidly grow and be deployed worldwide with its introduction in 2017.

Operators such as AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and Vodafone are conducting or about to conduct pre-standard NB-IoT pilots and trials using equipment from vendors that include Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, and Qualcomm.

These results are from ABI Research’s report titled “IoT Wide Area Networks” which is part of the company’s Future Networks and IoT, IoE, & M2M sectors, and includes research, data, and analyst insights.

“While some in the industry view the new 3GPP standards as competitors to the current non-3GPP LPWA technologies and predict their demise, we believe that NB-IoT will complement LPWA,” says Nick Marshall, Research Director at ABI Research. “But it is true that out of the 15 LPWA technologies we profiled, some were designed for use cases that are unsuitable for NB-IoT, such as where downlink data is not required.” “Ultimately, the choice of IoT radio link involves trade-offs between conflicting features, which often involve capacity, licensed versus unlicensed operation, range, reliability, battery life, cost and proprietary versus standards-based schemes,” concludes Marshall. 

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