3GPP support for Cellular IoT

Dec 12, 2017 | By Navnit Goel

With a vision to connect billions of devices through cellular network, 3GPP has developed technologies in release 14. In order to support diverse applications and device types, it has defined three technologies :

  • EC-GSM –IoT: Extended Coverage GSM Internet of Things
  • LTE-M: LTE for Machine type of Communication
  • NB-IoT: Narrow Band Internet of Things

EC-GSM-IoT is building on GPRS/EGPRS. GPRS/EGPRS is most widely deployed technology in cellular communication.

EC-GSM-IoT adds improved coverage by 20 dB over EGPRS, LTE-grade security, power efficient operation and reduced device complexity.

LTE-M has been designed to reduce device complexity, to make LTE competitive with EGPRS in the MTC. The main components of LTE-M are a series of low-cost device categories (e.g. Cat-M1 and Cat-M2) and two coverage enhancement modes (i.e. CE modes A and B). LTE-M also supports secure communication, ubiquitous coverage. LTE-M supports full-duplex frequency division duplex (FDD), half-duplex FDD, and time division duplex (TDD). Its ability to operate as a full-duplex system over a larger bandwidth provides it with the capability to provide higher throughput than EC-GSM-IoT and NB-IoT. LTE-M also supports voice over IP.

While EC-GSM-IoT and LTE are based on existing radio access technologies, NB-IoT is based on a new radio access technology. It can operate over a system bandwidth as low as 200 kHz, in stand-alone mode, within an LTE carrier, or, within the guard-band of an LTE carrier. It supports a minimum channel bandwidth of only 3.75 kHz. This provides high spectrum flexibility and system capacity. Other characteristics of NB-IoT are the energy efficient operation, ultra-low device complexity and ubiquities coverage.

Thus, 3GPP now offers three solutions for long-range, power efficient, massive machine-type communications. Compared to other proprietary solutions 3GPP solutions have a clear edge, as 3GPP technologies build upon an existing global eco-system of Cellular networks. The operation in licensed spectrum allows for a level of control and quality assurance, not possible to achieve by proprietary technologies operating in the unlicensed frequency domain. Also Read Enabling Cellular Networks for IoT

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