IoT News Roundup

Smart-city projects get leg-up from Obama Administration; standards body greenlights new cellular standard for Internet of Things; crowdfunding for IoT home-security device off to strong start.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

NB-LTE Wins Standardization Nod
IoT network nodes are often widely deployed in remote areas and in large numbers. They do not transmit large payloads of data, but they enable devices to transmit information over great distances, and while consuming as little battery power as possible. This week, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a consortium of telecommunications standards bodies, decided to standardize Narrow Band Long-Term Evolution (NB-LTE) technology, which is a variant of LTE cellular technology optimized to meet the performance requirements of IoT nodes. The term "narrow band" refers to the use of a narrow slice of the cellular radio spectrum to transmit short packets of data to and from a large number of devices deployed across a large area.

The standard focuses specifically on connected devices used for IoT applications, which require that devices consume little power and that communication modules be low-cost. Cellular carriers are phasing out support for 2G cellular networks, which many legacy cellular-based IoT networks use. Those end users will need to upgrade to NB-LTE chipsets, but would continue to leverage cellular networks, which are available globally.

Chipmaker Intel says it plans to offer NB-LTE chipsets and product upgrades beginning in 2016, while Nokia and Ericsson announced plans to support NB-LTE on their respective broadband infrastructures.

"NB-LTE targets lower device complexity and cost, as well as a [long transmission distance] for existing LTE networks, so [NB-LTE nodes] would be reachable even if they are, say, inside a basement," says Kai Sahala, Nokia's head of product marketing for mobile broadband. "And it will improve [device] battery life to up to 10 years."

NB-LTE is one of a handful of competing long-range, low-power data-transmission technologies that leverage different parts of the radio spectrum and various networking technologies and infrastructures.

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