M2M Platforms

So, What Are We Calling Narrowband-IoT Today?

The concept of Narrowband-IoT is simple, yet operators don't seem to have settled on what to call the technology.

Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) is a 4G variant that operates in a small bandwidth at low-power. The idea is that the technology will support Internet of Things (IoT) applications, for devices that use battery power and need to stay connected for years without changing that battery. (See The NB-IoT Train Is Coming and NB-IoT: Setting the Pace in the Race to 5G.)

NB-IoT can transmit at up to 250 Kbit/s and receive data over a 180KHz channel. The specification was standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in June this year as part of LTE Release 13. Field trials of the technology are expected to start next year. (See AT&T Anticipating Low-Power 4G Spec for IoT and Vodafone Ups IoT Stakes With 2017 Plan for NB-IoT.)

Yet carriers and vendors can't seem to agree what to call it. At the CTIA show last week, I heard the technology referred to as Cat-M2, NB-IoT and Cat-NB and -- as far as I know -- all of those terms are technically correct.

The 3GPP has also called the specification LTE Cat NB1. Confused yet?

Well it might not be worth worrying about too much. Apparently people are still talking about what to name the technology as it actually comes to market, probably late in 2017 or early 2018. There are worries, for instance, that the "Cat" moniker will lead to confusion with Cat 5 cable, or other Ethernet cabling.

I would typically think that the type of "consumer" using NB-IoT is likely to be the project leader in an IT department developing an IoT application or service, probably with help from their service provider, at least in the beginning.

I don't expect that everyday consumers like you and me will have much dealing with the dark arts of finding suitable LTE Cat NB1 modules for an agri-business project. But who knows? Maybe a must-have consumer application will be thought up that uses the technology.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

PT13 9/27/2016 | 7:39:58 PM
Re: Confusing Maybe you could call it Narrowband LTE or even shorten it to NB-LTE.       ;-)   ;-)
DanJones 9/23/2016 | 1:06:43 PM
Re: Confusing actually wouldn't LTE- lite be a nice simple answer?
DanJones 9/20/2016 | 3:56:29 PM
Re: Confusing It's my JOB to be skeptical. All of the 5G stuff IS a lot of hot air until real commercial networks are up and running. Sure, its interesting and its the hot new thing but its not real til it is actually launched. I've seen plenty of vendors and operators make predictions plenty of times before.

For instance, the RAN piece is just one part of the puzzle. If the backhaul is lacking (and past experience suggests that is piece that is usually the bottleneck) then it doesn't even matter how good the RAN side is.
TV Monitor 9/19/2016 | 9:50:45 PM
Re: Confusing Dan Jones

Well, you were skeptical of the first 28 Ghz Samsung base station available next year being fully mobile ready. It will be, along with a matching 28 Ghz Galaxy phone prototype.
DanJones 9/19/2016 | 5:55:02 PM
Re: Confusing What does that have to do with this blog?
TV Monitor 9/19/2016 | 5:51:45 PM
Re: Confusing T-Mobile will receive near commercial service grade 28 Ghz basestations from Samsung next year. You can assume that this is same as base stations for that 28 Ghz 5G network that will go live by July of 2017 to begin testing and stabilize in times for 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018.


Samsung has announced that it is to cooperate with T-Mobile US, America's third-largest carrier, in building a "nearly commercially complete" 5G service using the 28GHz band, next year.
DanJones 9/19/2016 | 4:38:07 PM
Re: Confusing LTE Cat M2 *is* NB-IoT unless something has changed!
iainmorris 9/19/2016 | 8:35:05 AM
Confusing Certainly baffling for reporters covering this area, though. LTE-M is another one that seems to have picked up different labels.
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