The commercial deployment of 5G network will accelerate the formation of a development pattern in which all kinds of IoT connections are enabled by NB-IoT, 4G, 5G and other technologies in turn. NB-IoT is expected to become an integral part of IMT-2020 or 5G, addressing the burgeoning demands for low-speed, low-bandwidth connections in utilities, households and industries.
By the end of 2019, the total number of NB-IoT connections in China exceeded 95 million, a net increase of nearly 62 million over 2018. The uptrend is expected to accelerate before 2022, and NB-IoT connections are expected to reach nearly 400 million. Standard LPWA technology has obvious advantages in terms of battery life, chip cost, network capacity and coverage. It boosts the wide application of NB-IoT in remote control and monitoring.
NB-IoT technology has penetrated smart water management systems and smart gas meters. The number of connections has been growing steadily towards 20 million, developing in depth and breadth from meter reading to pipe network monitoring. NB-IoT technology can upgrade complicated manual meter reading to wireless automatic meter reading. It can also use online data from remote water meters/gas meters/electricity meters for consumption analysis, provide real-time feedback on pipe leakage, reduce the consumption of human resources and improve efficiency.
Currently, most NB-IoT connections are concentrated in a few cities. It’s not yet popularized nationwide. A large number of base stations are underloaded or unloaded, so there is huge room for development. After the withdrawal of 2G and 3G networks, IoT applications such as POS machines and shared bicycles will also turn to NB-IoT technology. Meanwhile, it will be used widely in smart street lights, smart parking, smart manhole covers, smart appliances, smart door locks and asset tracking.
According to Counterpoint, NB-IoT penetration will reach more than 26% of cellular IoT connections by 2022. As a result, SIMCom has planned ahead and developed multiple NB-IoT modules based on different platforms, with different packaging types and sizes, to meet the design needs of different products in different trades.
SIMCom NB-IoT modules are compliant with 3GPP Release-14 and fit in more use cases, leveraging the faster uplink (150Kbps) and downlink (100Kbps) speed, wider coverage (3dB enhanced), better mobility (80km/h), as well as the support of cell-based location:
- SIM7090G: It is the smallest NB-IOT module with 14.8*12.8*2.0mm. It has strong scalability and rich interfaces, including UART, GPIO, PCM, SPI, I2C, etc., which is an ideal choice for IoT applications such as asset tracking, wearable products and metering.
- SIM7020X: It’s a multi-band NB-IoT module that has a wealth of hardware interfaces, including serial ports, GPIO, ADC, etc. With wider signal coverage, it can transmit data in places with poor telecom conditions, such as basements. It is widely used in smart dustbins, smart water meters and so on.
- SIM7070G: It conforms to 3GPP Rel.14 standards, supports voice, TheadX/AliOS system, Openlinux, FOTA, and is compatible with mainstream cloud platform systems. Compared with the previous generation of modules, it reduces power consumption by 70% in PSM mode, and is compatible with SIM900 and SIM800F 2G modules in hardware.