All About NB-IoT : An Interview with ELE Times
Updated: May 9, 2019
Considering the work we are doing in IoT space, Nikita Sharma from ELE Times interviewed Ved Purohit, Managing Director of Infinitus. Here is the interview for extensive understanding of NB-IoT.
ELE Times: Is NB-IoT different from other technologies like LoRaWAN, Sigfox or Wi-Fi, if yes, then How?
Ved Purohit: Indeed it differs from other technologies in many ways, technically, adoption wise, and application wise. NB IoT comes in the gamut of Low Powered Wide Area Network (LPWAN) which makes it directly comparable to LoRaWAN, Sigfox, and LTE-M.
Unlike LoRaWAN and Sigfox , NB-IoT work in licensed band, it can carried out in existing base infrastructure, whereas technology like LoRaWAN, needs establishment of a gateway. NB-IoT is cellular grade technology which uses OFDM modulation, it means existing 4G infrastructure already established by major players like Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance JIO can be used to roll out NB-IoT network.
Major difference between these technologies is in implementation. On the node or end devices, particularly in India, NB-IoT lags in providing ecosystem for device developers, and implementing a solution, when compared to LoRa.
The adoption of any technology for any business case is primarily the function of RoI. So more or less every technology is same, it just depends on the requirement and the application.
ELE Times: Many companies out there are working on NB-IoT, please highlight your products for NB-IoT segment.
Ved Purohit: Infinitus is an embedded design firm, our play area is IoT consulting, we offer services in IoT products development with major focus on embedded system and IoT connectivity & device integrations.
We are in development phase of a product based on NB-IoT and testing phase on LoRa based product. We are in process of partnering up with Network providers & IC manufacturers, once we are done with it we would be able provide complete solution to non-hardware/software/app based companies to build hardware based solutions.
As IoT is not a concept anymore, it’s in real, we are getting many leads for developing hardware products that uses NB-IoT & LoRa.
Right now, we are working on dustbin level indicator with GPS capability on NB-IoT. And planning to launch more products in safety & security arena.
Not only this, we are working on all other technologies as well like, WiFi, Bluetooth, BLE Mesh, GSM, NFC. For any hardware based solution, we are one stop solution.
ELE Times: NB-IoT is becoming a buzzword in IoT. What according to you would be the upcoming applications for NB-IoT?
Ved Purohit: No doubt about it and the buzz is loud also, soon it will start impacting our life. As it is promising in terms of network coverage, which is not the case with LoRaWAN, NB-IoT will find enormous application in urban and semi-urban areas because they are well covered already.
NB-IoT product will find its application in smart city segment like, waste management, smart metering, water management. Safety & security is one particular application where I think it will enormously impact general life.
Being a low powered device, it will be game changer in remote monitoring application like we have to measure temperature and humidity data of warehouse in every 2 hours so as to ensure efficient storage, NB-IoT is a wise choice to make a device.
ELE Times: What challenges hit as the barriers in the development of NB-IoT field in India?
Ved Purohit: As such there is no particular barrier that we are facing now, it’s just the matter of time.
Any hardware level technology implementation involves multiple stake holders, like chip manufacturer Quectel, protocols establishers, network providers like airtel, product developers like Infinitus to make an ecosystem before a complete solution can be rolled out for public. NB-IoT is a new entrant in IoT space and it will take time to evolve as major contributor.
There are technical challenges like related to complexities in deploying the network within any existing LTE infrastructure is that the narrowband signal holds 180 kHz or one Physical Resource Block (PRB) within the broadband carrier. The difference in frequencies can produce internal interference between two PRB elements. Which will be addressed when operators optimize their system.
We have started witnessing top telecom honchos like Reliance JIO, airtel, Ericson, Vodafone have started building proof of concept and rolling out the network. Soon product developers will start making product on these platforms and start providing solutions to customers.
When compared to LoRaWAN, NB-IoT works in licensed band, it means individual developers, enthusiasts and small companies can’t build their network, which is the biggest advantage in LoRaWAN.
ELE Times: What opportunities do you see in the NB-IoT in coming years?
Ved Purohit: We need to understand that NB-IoT in itself is NOT sellable, it can only sell in a complete IoT solution. So opportunities lies in the complete of IoT as NB- IoT is pretty good option for wireless connectivity.
At first, the IC manufacturers will see an another vertical in their businesses, then comes the opportunity for design house like Infinitus, who will develop the products for SME or for customer, once there is significant number of devices in market, telcos will start seeing some substantial growth.
There are many play areas where it will open up the opportunities like, smart governance, safety & security, automotive, precision farming, data collection and monitoring.