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IoT Connectivity Solutions

Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN)

The next generation of IoT connectivity is here

The next generation of IoT connectivity

With 3G and 2G services being phased out by networks and over 50% of IoT connections predicted to use LPWAN services by 2025, we help you explore the benefits, features and use cases that will fuel this growth.

What are Low Power, Wide Area Networks?

 

LPWANs are a group of wireless technologies used to efficiently deliver IoT connectivity at low cost over wide geographic areas.

The complexity and costs of LPWAN deployments can be kept low due to simplified device design and long battery life (meaning no need for electrical cabling). With efficient power consumption and battery lifetime up to 10 years, management costs are also kept very low.  Especially for mass deployments. Geographic coverage from each cell site is wide compared to other cellular services, and it delivers the added benefit of deep penetration into areas such as basements and underground car parks.

LPWAN technologies can be split into unlicenced services such as Sigfox and LoRa, and licenced spectrum such as Long-Term Evolution Cat-M1 (LTE-M) and NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT).

 

Licenced LPWAN Services

Mobile operators across the globe are building out highly secure and standards-based LTE-M and NB-IoT networks to support the rapid growth of IoT applications. These networks will directly replace 2G and 3G services in the coming years as Mobile Network Operators phase these technologies out. Unlike previous cellular technologies, both options were designed with IoT devices in mind and are part of the LTE mobile standards.

In order to future proof deployments, new applications are now typically designed with combined modem modules that are both LTE-M / NB-IoT ready and work with existing 2G and 3G networks.

Unlicensed LPWAN Services

Technologies such as LoRa and Sigfox are proprietary and are more typically deployed in high density areas such as cities. Although they offer many of the benefits of LTE-M and NB-IoT, they do not benefit from the same level of network security, interoperability and service that cellular technologies and operators offer.

LTE-M vs NB-IoT

Understanding the key differences between LTE-M and NB-IoT will help you to understand which technology is the best solution for your IoT application.

LTE-M (Cat-M1)

LTE-M is optimised for higher bandwidth and mobile applications, and is likely to directly replace 3G (and some 2G) services in the coming years. It delivers latency and speeds broadly equivalent to 3G, supporting firmware updates and applications from low power sensors to high bandwidth applications up to 1GB of data per month. It works well with mobile applications as connectivity is seamlessly managed between cell sites.

4G and 5G will continue to be a better option for very high bandwidth and low latency applications such as CCTV and autonomous vehicles, but LTE-M will deliver on the needs of a large percentage of existing and new IoT applications, from sensors to vehicle tracking.

LTE-M is highly secure and supports SMS and voice, allowing two-way communications. Although roaming is possible on LTE-M, operator agreements are not widely in place and it is possible that roaming usage will be restricted by some networks.

LTE-M comes with LTE grade security as standard, keeping your data and network secure.

NB-IoT

NB-IoT is more suitable for lower-data, high-density and passive sensor applications. It has been developed to enable a wide range of IoT applications at low cost by providing a very long battery life, two-way communications and covering the deepest and widest areas. With efficient power use, batteries can have lifetimes of up to 10 years, minimising management costs and making mass deployments economically viable.

It is a highly secure, resilient and cost-effective way to provide connectivity to static applications that generate low data traffic or have a long life-cycle.  Examples include water and gas meters or vending machines.

NB-IoT is compatible with specific modules (Wireless Logic can advise on these) and comes with LTE grade security as standard, keeping your data and network secure.

Comparing NB-IoT and LTE-M

Our 3G/2G sunset guide reviews these two licenced LPWAN technologies in further detail here.

TechnologyLoRaNB-IoT
(LTE Cat-M2)
LTE-M
(LTE Cat-M1)
Global-Standards-Based1Global Standards
Major-mno-support1 Major MNO Support
Typical-Connection-Speed1 Typical Connection Speed
(Download / Upload)
Up to 0.05 Mbps0.07 Mbps/0.03 MbpsUp to 1 Mbps
coverage Coverage
(Decibel (dB) gain GSM)
+5dB GSM
(Good for high density use)
+20dB GSM 
(Wide area & strong subterranean penetration)
+11dB GSM 
(Wide area & good subterranean penetration)
connection-frequencyConnection FrequencySometimes connectedSometimes connectedFrequently Connected
mobilityMobilitySeamless connectivity within managed networkHandover between cells not supportedSeamless connectivity between cells
Response-TimeResponse TimeMediumSlow 
~1 sec
Medium 
~100ms
Total-Cost-of-OwnershipTotal Cost of OwnershipDeployment SpecificLow 
(low module costs and long device lifecycle)
Low 
(low module costs and long device lifecycle)
power-efficiencyPower EfficiencyVery High 
(up to 10 year battery life)
Very High 
(up to 10 year battery life)
High 
(up to 7 year battery life)
power-savingPower Saving Mode (PSM)
extended-sleep-cycleExtended Sleep Cycle (eDRX)
international-roamingInternational Roamingn/a
May be restricted by some networks

May be restricted by some networks
smsSMS
two-way-voiceTwo-way Voice

Compare against other bearer services

It is worth noting that NB-IoT and LTE-M are not compatible for all modules. We can recommend the most suitable solution for your use case.

LTE-M and NB-IoT Use Cases

LTE-M and NB-IoT provide long range communication, up to 10 years’ battery life and can connect assets that would otherwise be out of reach. Use cases that are suited to these technologies include:

LTE-M and NB-IoT Network Coverage

Wireless Logic offers managed connectivity services for LTE-M and NB-IoT across 75 networks in 45 countries through our operator agnostic connectivity management platform, SIMPro.

Why Wireless Logic for LPWAN?

LPWAN Expertise


Knowledge and experience from our IoT experts to keep total cost of ownership low.

MNO Partnerships


Network choice and access to MNO expertise and test labs for your applications.

Ultimate Control


LTE-M and NB-IoT services fully integrated into our SIM management platform, SIMPro.

Secure


Multi-layer security that builds on the high security standards built into LTE-M and NB-IoT.

Rapid Deployment


Fast and expert deployment, customer service and tech support.

Your next step…

Talk to one of our IoT experts about your connectivity needs.
Call us on 0330 056 3300.

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