Cellular Connectivity for IoT

NB-IoT and LTE-M are the two leading technologies in cellular connectivity for IoT. Ideal for a range of IoT applications, both of these technologies use SIM cards to transmit recorded data via a mobile network.

Cellular connectivity for IoT - compare NB-IoT and LTE-M
Image by Qualcomm

Both NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) and LTE-M operate on low power, wide area networks (LPWAN) just like LoRaWAN®. These technologies are well suited to low power devices which record and transmit small packets of data over long distances.

LoRaWAN® technology involves a gateway to connect devices to the LoRaWAN® Network Server. This can be done via an ethernet backhaul or cellular data connection. With NB-IoT or LTE-M, the data is sent straight to the server; no gateway required. But it comes at a cost – you’ll need a SIM card in each device.

You might see LTE-M by other names. It’s an abbreviation for LTE Cat-M1. Cat-M1 devices send (relatively) small amounts of data across a narrow bandwidth using low power. This makes them great candidates for IoT applications.

How do NB-IoT and LTE-M work?

Cellular LPWAN technologies are based on LTE/4G connectivity, similar to how a mobile phone works. There are three critical components to NB-IoT and LTE-M solutions; sensors, SIM cards and a dashboard. Unlike LoRaWAN®, NB-IoT and LTE-M solutions do not require you to have a gateway or network server in order to work. The network is maintained by a mobile network provider enabling you to simply insert the relevant SIM card to your devices. You then configure the device to where you want the data to be sent.

NB-IoT is better suited for assets which may be fixed, slow moving or fast moving for which you only need a few periodic messages from. This is by design as there is no hand-off from cell towers in order to achieve the lowest power usage possible.

NB-IoT Network Map
Image by u-blox

LTE-M on the other hand is better suited to faster moving assets that you need more frequent messages from as it does support handover. It also has a slightly lower latency and higher throughput. But these come at the cost of slightly increased power usage.

Why choose cellular connectivity for IoT?

There are a wide variety of NB-IoT and LTE-M sensors available. Whatever you are looking to monitor, we can help you build your solution. NB-IoT and LTE-M technologies are ideal for smaller solutions or projects where sensors may need to be monitored on the move or across multiple locations.

Some examples of suitable applications include:
  • Smart Buildings
  • Asset Tracking
  • Smart Cities
  • Monitoring Utilities
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Industry 4.0
  • Wearable Technologies
  • Connected Healthcare
  • Waste Management
  • Transport and Logistics
Key Benefits include:
  • Configure devices yourself to send date to your preferred platform
  • Record data from across multiple locations and assets on the move
  • Hassle free connectivity – leave the network management to the mobile provider
  • Quickly begin to visualise data by connecting your sensors to your dashboard via an IP address
  • Long battery life of up to 10 years
  • Utilises dedicated radio space making it less susceptible to interference

Things to Consider…

  • Coverage: As Cellular LPWAN networks are maintained by mobile network providers, coverage may not be available in all areas. Our team can help you to establish this prior to getting started.
  • Cost: With cellular LPWAN each sensor will require its own SIM card which depending on the size of your project and the number of end points could result in higher costs.
  • Sensor Locations: If you need to deploy sensors across multiple locations or monitor moving objects for example, NB-IoT and LTE-M are likely to be a good option for you.

What you’ll need to get started with NB-IoT or CAT-M1:

  • Help with choosing the correct devices and technology, our team are on hand to provide expert advise.
  • A device that supports the technology – Alliot have an ever growing range of devices in stock.
  • Batteries – we can ship these with your orders
  • A suitable SIM card – These are currently fixed to either NB-IoT or CAT-M1, we can supply both variants and help you select the right technology for your solution.
  • Network Coverage – NB-IoT currently has by far the best coverage in the UK, but coverage for both NB-IoT and LTE-M is always growing.
  • Somewhere to send the data to – This will be a server that accepts UDP or TCP connections (depending on the device being used), decodes the data and does something with it. This could be part of a dashboard system – speak with our team today about your requirements.

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Our expert team are on hand ready to help you every step of the way. Whether you’re looking to decipher the best technology for your IoT solution, or create a custom proof of concept kit to get your project moving we’re here to help.

We currently partner with the world’s leading Cellular LPWAN suppliers and can provide you with the SIM cards and Sensors to bring your projects to life.