An extra power class for devices used in Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) applications has been approved by the latest 3GPP RAN working group meeting, after u-blox, in collaboration with Neul (part of Huawei), convinced its peers of the need. As a result, a maximum transmit power of 20 dBm (Power Classs 5) will be included in the 3GPP Release 13 of NB-IoT standards due out in June 2016.
This additional power class with lower maximum transmitted power could help to reduce the peak current consumption from the battery, hence enabling NB-IoT to be suitable for a wider range of IoT applications, such as wearables and tracking.
NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology for IoT applications, available for deployment over existing mobile networks, in licensed radio spectrum. These applications have low data rates, require long battery lives and operate unattended for long periods of time, often in remote locations.
In many use cases of NB-IoT applications, no local power supply is available, either for convenience (water meter, tracker, covert security sensor, outdoor sensor) or safety (gas meter) reasons. The operational justification for an application also often depends on not having to visit a location to replace a battery as the cost of a ‘truck roll’ is high.
Batteries for long life applications, up to 10 years for some utility meters, are therefore crucial. They must also be small to fit into all IoT devices and be able to operate at very low temperatures.