NB-IoT and LTE-M are all about the 5G, says GSMA report

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The GSMA has issued a new report reinforcing its claims that cellular IoT networks supporting NB-IoT and LTE-M are integral to developing use cases for 5G, particularly ‘massive IoT’.

According to the report, “NB-IoT and LTE-M in the 5G context“, massive IoT is one of three principle 5G use cases, alongside critical communications and enhanced broadband, that will enable developments such as smart cities and industrial automation. NB-IoT and LTE-M will be fundamental to the development of massive IoT and in supporting and complementing 5G’s myriad use cases and applications, the GSMA says.

Operators including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, Orange and Vodafone are already committed to deploying these networks as part of their future 5G massive IoT strategies, said GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair.

“While people often associate 5G with super-fast mobile broadband speeds, it will also serve a variety of use cases often with diametrically opposed requirements such as low data rates and long battery life as with the case of Mobile IoT,” Sinclair said, adding that licensed NB-IoT and LTE-M networks “will continue to be a fundamental component of our 5G future ushering in an era of massive IoT.”

NB-IoT and LTE-M were designed by the 3GPP to compete with LPWA technologies like Sigfox and LoRa, and can support cellular IoT applications that are low cost, use low data rates, require long battery lives and often operate in remote and hard-to-reach locations such as industrial asset tracking, safety monitoring or water and gas metering.

To date, 24 mobile operators have commercially launched 48 ‘Mobile IoT’ networks worldwide across both NB-IoT and LTE-M technologies, and support applications such as smart metering, smart logistics and smart environmental monitoring, the GSMA report says.

The GSMA’s research wing, GSMA Intelligence, forecasts that by 2025 there will be 3.1 billion cellular IoT connections, including 1.8 billion licensed LPWA connections.

The 3GPP’s Release 15 standard – which is set for completion next month – will include NB-IoT and LTE-M as 5G mobile standards. 3GPP will also not include any additional LPWA requirements in its next release, meaning that NB-IoT and LTE-M will coexist with other 3GPP technologies and fulfil long-term 5G LPWA requirements.

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