Beyond LoRa & SigFox: Narrowband to drive the adoption of cellular IoT

This report segments the NB-IoT chipset market based on offering, device, deployment type, end-use application, and geography. The market has been segmented on the basis of offerings into hardware, software, cellular network, and services.

The existing technologies in the LPWA market such as LoRa and SigFox are less reliable and less secure and also incur a high operational cost. To overcome the connectivity challenges such as high power consumption, less coverage, and so on, 3rd-Generation Partnership Program (3GPP) members such as Huawei (China) and Ericsson (Sweden) are trying to speed up the standardization of the LPWA IoT technology. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology is expected to overcome these shortcomings as it is highly reliable, consumes low power, and incurs less operational cost.  

As most IoT devices, especially sensors, do not need to send data of large sizes, they can work with narrowband connections. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) connectivity is ideal for devices which send data of small size over a long range. According to the mobile operator’s installed base, NB-IoT deployment can be of three types, that is, stand alone, in band, and guard band. The deployment of NB-IoT in sub1GHz bands enables good propagation and penetration characteristics of NB-IoT. 

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NB-IoT is designed to operate in 200 KHz carrier and is able to operate in shared spectrum with an existing LTE network. “The narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) chipset market is expected to grow from USD 16.7 Million in 2017 to USD 181.02 Million by 2022, at a CAGR of 61.06% during the forecast period”, says Sachin Garg who tracks global market for semiconductor at research firm MarketsandMarkets.

Market Drivers

Increase in adoption of M2M communication between electronic devices

  • NB-IoT technology offers low-power usage and wide area coverage compared to other LPWA technologies.
  • The growing adoption of connected devices drives the market for machine-to-machine communication, and thus creates a lucrative market for NB-IoT technology.

Growing demands for long-range connectivity

  • The existing LPWA technologies such as LoRa and SigFox are operated in unlicensed spectrum and have limitations in terms of coverage area; whereas, NB-IoT is operated in licensed spectrum and exhibits large coverage area of approximately 35 km.
  • Enhanced coverage is necessary for mobile and hard-to-reach devices such as trackers in agricultural land for monitoring and many other use cases.

Need for low-power and low-cost technology

  • Low power consumption is a major requirement for all LWPA applications such as smart meters, smart parking, wearables, and smart grids.
  • The NB-IoT module is expected to cost around USD 5 per unit while other LPWA technologies such as LORA and SigFox cost around USD 9 per unit and USD 8 unit, respectively.


Developments for Commercializing NB-IoT

With the efforts of major players, NB-IoT has been accepted as a part of Release 13. In May 2014, Huawei and Vodafone collaborated and applied for the approval of the study of the Narrowband Machine-to-Machine (NB-M2M) technology in 3GPP GERAN. During the same year, in October, Qualcomm submitted a proposal for another version of the Narrow Band IoT technology with the name Narrowband Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (NB-OFDM). 

In May 2015, Huawei and Qualcomm submitted a proposal of air interface technologies and both the companies jointly agreed upon Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA) in uplink and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDMA) in downlink. In 2015, the names NB M2M and NB OFDM were changed to NB-CIoT (Narrow Band Cellular IoT). Additionally, during this period, Ericsson (Sweden) also invested capital and resources in the research and development of the NB-IoT technology.

In September 2015, 3GPP accepted both Narrowband Long-Term Evolution (NB-LTE) and Narrowband Cellular Internet of Things (NB-CIoT) in Release 13 and then the name was changed to NB-IoT.

Drivers for Key Countries

USA: The U.S. government has been investing significant amounts toward the implementation of IoT across various sectors such as infrastructure and utilities under programs such as Smart America. The U.S. government offers a supportive environment for research and development, which is facilitating advancements in IoT applications.

• China:  China had 74 million M2M connections at the end of 2014 and the number is expected to grow at a CAGR of 29% between 2014 and 2021, building up an extensive Internet of Things (IoT). NB-IoT can be an efficient solution for IoT connectivity in China, considering the involvement of Chinese companies such as Huawei, China Mobile, and China Unicom.

Narrow Band-IoT chipset MARKET by region 

Major Market Developments 

 At the Internet of Things Summit during Mobile World Congress Shanghai (MWC Shanghai) 2016, Huawei Technologies (China) launched its end-to-end NB-IoT solution to help global operators expand their IoT services into new markets. With this, the company achieved global presence in the NB-IoT market.

• In June 2016, U-blox Holding AG (Switzerland), a global leader in wireless and positioning modules and chips, announced the availability of SARA-N2 NB-IoT module, which is the world’s first cellular radio module compliant with the 3GPP Release 13 NB-IoT (LTE Cat. NB1) standard.

• In February 2016, Nokia Networks (Finland) demonstrated NB-IoT network equipment to support operators and enterprises in addressing numerous use cases and business models in the rapidly developing IoT market at Mobile World Congress in 2016.

• In June 2016, Ericsson (Sweden), Nokia Networks (Finland), Intel Corporation (U.S.), and Telia (Sweden) entered into a partnership to invest in the joint development of a standard for NB-IoT to serve the growing IoT market in Sweden.

For more information Visit:
Narrowband IoT Chipset Market by Application – 2022

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