Verizon launched its low-cost, low-power NB-IoT network across 92% of the country Tuesday, becoming the third operator to launch the LTE-based network in the US behind T-Mobile and AT&T.
Verizon Vice President of Technology Development and Planning Bill Stone said the decision to use guard band airwaves or fallow gaps of spectrum left between radio frequencies to prevent interference was a strategic move to make the most efficient use of its spectrum assets.
“By using the more complex Guard Band solution for our Narrow Band IoT Network, we are demonstrating very efficient use of spectrum assets while giving customers the breadth of options they need to best meet their needs. This strategic use of spectrum is one of the many variables that has resulted in Verizon’s continued performance superiority and strong capital management over the years,” Stone stated.
Currently, all three operators use guard band spectrum, meaning the NB-IoT networks don’t share spectrum resources with commercial smartphone traffic.
Verizon’s plan, which costs $1 a month, is double that of AT&T’s, which also launched its own NB-IoT network two weeks earlier. But Verizon’s access fee includes 50 kilobits of data which can be shared with other NB-IoT devices.
Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology is specifically designed for IoT applications that could benefit from access to lower cost chipsets, superior coverage, and significantly prolonged battery life.
The NB-IoT network provides the ability to manage both IP and non-IP data traffic. The network’s ability to handle non-IP data traffic allows for simpler and more cost-effective IoT devices mostly for non-mobile solutions such as alarm panels, environmental sensors, industrial appliances, factory equipment, and parking meters.
While other LTE-based connectivity solutions like CaT-M1 target use cases such as wearables and fleet and asset management, NB-IoT focuses on applications with data rates generally below 100 kbps. NB-IoT technology occupies a dedicated frequency of 180 kHz bandwidth designated for IoT applications.
Verizon has partnered with chipset and equipment manufacturers Telit, SIM-COM, and Quectel for its NB-IoT network, which the company says are in the final stages of testing modules.
NB-IoT Applications in Smart Buildings
According to the GSMA, more than 1.9 billion LTE-M and NB-IoT connections are expected by 2025. Globally, more than 114 operators have launched commercial IoT networks as of this month.
Karri Kuoppamaki , Vice President of Radio Network Technology Development and Strategy at T-Mobile, which was the first operator to launch NB-IoT network in the US, says that enterprises and business owners should start thinking about how to use NB-IoT for smart city metering and other use cases today. As 5G emerges, it is going to increase demand and the richness of what can be done with these use cases in the future.
NB-IoT can be used effectively in commercial and industrial buildings for the smart metering of utilities, facility management services, security in commercial properties, occupant tracking, and connecting industrial appliances and systems.
It’s an ideal connectivity solution for smart building devices and sensors designed to enhance building safety and incident response times through connected smoke detectors including regular auto-test, battery check, and real-time alerts to the relevant parties in case of fire.
NB-IoT is especially effective at connecting smart building IoT devices to city and municipality systems for purposes of utility smart metering, parking metering, and air quality monitoring, all of which generally require smaller amounts of data to be transferred over long distances.
One of the benefits of NB-IoT technology is that it increases the battery life of IoT devices by drawing less energy due to its simpler waveform which consumes less power. This enables building owners to lower both power and labor costs by reducing the frequency of changing battery-powered smart building devices and sensors used in industrial and commercial properties.