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Well, in @Fuelics we believe that it is the technology that will really deliver true #IoT Massive deployments. I will try to analyse that in brief:

1. NBIoT uses a small definite part of the #800MHz #spectrum that has been traditionally being used since the first day of cellular networks. The frequency itself is penetrative with respect to its wavelength (in comparison to higher frequencies) and the cellular service at 800MHz is ubiquitous (keep that in mind). 

2. NBIoT comes as a software upgrade of existing base stations. At the end of the day, cellular networks will just upgrade their software. This is really amazing for the IoT ecosystem, since launching does not interrupt current cellular service. 

3. Every #cellular base station once upgraded, will be able to provide connectivity to a vast number of sensors. The numbers are crazy. 50000 to 100000 devices per cell per base station. Let me elaborate. Just raise your eyes in the sky and search for the antennae of base stations. This is the only infrastructure you need to deploy IoT. The infrastructure is there already. 

4. “But 50 thousand (50000) devices per cell is a huge number. How will the network per cell per base station can service so many devices”? “Narrow Band” is the plain answer. Sensors dispersed physically around every cell will communicate with the base station in very short radio burst within just 200KHz of allocated spectrum. It is like having several flocks of birds tweeting at the same time in the same frequency. Small, short but unique tweets. Like a charm! 

5. ” I cannot see why tech evangelists consider NBIoT the best technology for Utility networks? ” some may ask. The answer is plain and simple. “Because it will be cheap and very intrusive with respect to the radio signals that can penetrate even within 2 floors underground”. Oops!!! This is something new for the cellular era. Bad reception in underground spaces was always a vulnerability for cellular networks.

I am very happy to tell you that yesterday (7th March 2018) we tested our revised radio modem and we where able to communicate with the NBIoT enabled base stations at a nominal distance of 2,5 Km, with our sensor being installed in a diesel tank, almost 6 meters below ground. Additionally, we did not have any direct optical connection with any of the NBIoT enabled base stations, thus the building itself was new, therefore was built with reinforced cement, which acts as an insulator for RF spectrum (actually our diesel tank resides more or less within a Faraday cage)

6. “When will NBIoT be ready for the masses”? Good question! Let me elaborate by asking in which part of the world do you happen to be? In Europe, things seem to go on a slow but decisive pace. In Greece by the way, the largest mobile carrier Cosmote worked extensively with Ericsson in order to deliver functional (but not yet fully fledged) NBIoT networks in Northern Greece. We were honored to be cited here and here, by the way. We believe that by the end of 2018 most of the cities around Europe will be NBIoT enabled. After all, it is being done just by a software upgrade!!!

7. Last but not least. Sensors. IoT in the NBIoT era is all about sensors doing measurements and feeding with big data the knowledge spectrum. Battery operated sensors! This is a game changer. We are referring to sensors that are made to last, be installed and be forgotten for more that 10 years. And smart sensors! How smart? Smart enough (with intrinsic intelligence) and the ability to understand when to throughput data. Imagine an IoT deployment with several hundred thousand of sensors. Each sensor is measuring a physical value and sends data to a database server. When we are talking about millions of sensors, the OPEX infrastructure cost will be significantly lower, if sensors just send only relevant information and not raw unfiltered information back to the server, resulting in lower saved data of at least 50 to 90%. Depending on the intrinsic intelligence of the sensor for monitoring assets like diesel tanks, in warm countries like Greece, burners seize to operate in mid Spring until the beginning of autumn, almost for six months. Now compare a smart sensor that understands that there is no need of sending repeatably the same fuel level value with a dummy sensor that is programmed to send the same value for almost six months, every hour (less is worse in this case) or less. There are no comparisons. Actually this is another novelty of our sensors. To be able to act autonomously and adapt (machine learning it is called).

8. “What about the cost for commissioning one sensor to the cloud”? How does 1$ per month per device sounds like? To my ears, as holy music coming from the skies. We are used to data plans ranging from several dollars to several tenths of dollars. This is really something new and innovative. The cost of service becomes very low, which is very good news for the IoT world, the world we make business and operate, while trying to make sensors smarter than before.

Dr. Evangelos S. Angelopoulos is the founder of Fuelics (www.fuelics.com) and an adjunct researcher in the Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, NSCR Democritos, where he is trying to design and develop off the self diesel sensors for quantitative and qualitative assessment of diesel fuel.

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What is Narrow Band IoT (NBIoT)?