3GPP LPWA Standards: LTE-M, NB-IoT & EC-GSM

Everything about 3GPP LPWA Standards: LTE-M, NB-IoT & EC-GSM

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Low-power wide-area (LPWA) network or low-power network (LPN) is a type of wireless telecommunication wide area network designed to allow long range communications at a low bit rate among things (connected objects), such as sensors operated on a battery.

The 3GPP has 3 standard LPWA technologies to run on licensed bands:

  • LTE-M or eMTC, an evolution of LTE technology with the first defined subcategory being “Category-M1” or Cat-M1
  • NB-IoT, a narrower adaptation of LTE technology designed to fit into 2G channels, with the first defined subcategory being “Category-NB1” or Cat-NB1
  • EC-GSM-IoT (usually shortened to EC-GSM), a 2G evolution of the GSM technology very well suited in countries with a strong existing 2G coverage

The standardised LPWA technologies possess several characteristics that make them particularly attractive:

- Low power consumption (to the range of nanoamp) that enables devices to operate for 10 years on a single charge
- Low device unit cost y Improved outdoor and indoor penetration coverage compared with existing wide area technologies
- Secure connectivity and strong authentication
- Optimised data transfer (supports small, intermittent blocks of data)
- Simplified network topology and deployment
- Integrated into a unified/horizontal Internet of Things (IoT)/ Machine-to-Machine (M2M) platform, where operators have this in place
- Network scalability for capacity upgrade

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