Qualcomm paving the way to Narrowband 5G with NB-IoT

Anthony Murray, 

SVP & GM, IoT, 

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.


The Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing a massive surge of smart, connected devices that will enable new services and efficiencies across industries. It will transform businesses, change the way people live, and fuel innovations for many years to come. It will bring economical and societal benefits as we set out to connect everyone and everything around us, and it is only a matter of time before it evolves into the Internet of Everything

Cellular technologies, like 4G LTE, are playing an increasingly important role in delivering reliable, secure, interoperable communications with ubiquitous coverage for applications such as smart cities, connected industrial, mobile health, and much more. Meeting the wide variation of requirements across these IoT applications requires new technology innovations.

In June of this year, 3GPP has completed the standardization of a new LTE-based narrowband technology designed for the IoT, called NB-IoT. This new technology, along with the previously completed eMTC (enhanced Machine-Type-Communications) technology, are part of Release 13 of the global 3GPP standard. Together, they deliver enhancements in both the LTE air interface and network that will bring new levels of efficiency for low-throughput, delay-tolerant communications common in many IoT use cases. They also introduce two new LTE IoT device categories (Cat-M1 and Cat-NB1) that are part of a unified, scalable LTE IoT platform.


Figure 1: Scalable LTE IoT Platform

NB-IoT and eMTC bring many enhancements and optimizations to LTE that will reduce IoT device complexity, enable multi-year battery life, and provide deeper coverage to reach challenging locations such as deep inside buildings. The new technologies also can leverage existing LTE infrastructure and spectrum, coexisting with today’s mobile broadband services.

Now that the 3GPP standardization on these new narrowband LTE IoT technologies is complete, the mobile industry is progressing toward commercialization of these new technologies driven by a high level of interest from the entire ecosystem. These new technologies provide a superior solution to emerging non-3GPP technologies for IoT and Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) applications.

Figure 2: LTE IoT delivers significant value for LPWA applications

Beyond these benefits, 3GPP is backed by a mature ecosystem with a rich roadmap to 5G. In fact, NB-IoT will continue to evolve beyond Release 13 with new features, such as support for multicast and positioning, establishing the foundation for Narrowband 5G IoT.

Beyond NB-IoT evolution, 3GPP is also defining a unified, more capable 5G air interface, or 5G New Radio (NR). The development of this specification is now well underway, and it is expected to bring new levels of capability and efficiency not only to the massive IoT (think low-power sensors everywhere), but also enable new mission-critical control services with low-latency, high reliability communications links (think drones and industrial robots).

As we did with 3G and 4G, Qualcomm is leading the world to 5G. And this is certainly exemplified in the Internet of Things, starting with LTE IoT technologies today. What to learn more?  Come see us at CTIA Super Mobility from September 7th to 9th, where we will be showcasing the new narrowband LTE IoT technologies. If you cannot attend the show, check out our LTE IoT whitepaper and website for more information.

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.