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5G Future Development via Core Technology “NB-IoT” in China by Concoxgarin

Oct 21, 2019

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At present, China has completed the complete submission of the IMT-2020 (5G) candidate technical solution. It is reported that in the submitted proposal, NB-IoT technology is officially included in the 5G candidate technology collection. It is expected that the ITU will officially announce the birth of the 5G technology solution in June 2020. And NB-IoT will also become the mainstream technology of the future 5G Internet of Things.

Beginning: NB-IoT Included in 5G Candidate Technical Proposal

On July 17, 2019, at the ITU-R WP5D#32 meeting, China completed the complete submission of the IMT-2020 (5G) candidate technology solution and obtained the official acceptance confirmation letter from the ITU regarding the 5G candidate technology solution.

It is understood that China's 5G wireless air interface technology (RIT) solution is based on 3GPP new air interface (NR) and narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology. Among them, NR focuses on the technical requirements of enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), low latency and high reliability (URLLC) scenarios, and NB-IoT meets the technical requirements of large-scale machines connection (mMTC) scenarios.

In 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the "Notice on Comprehensively Advancing the Construction and Development of Mobile Internet of Things (NB-IoT)", in which the "Notice" shows that by 2020, the NB-IoT network will be widely covered nationwide, facing indoors, traffic network, The application scenarios such as the underground pipe network achieve deep coverage, and the base station scale reaches 1.5 million.

In the past six months, NB-IoT has been written into the 5G candidate technology program by the state, indicating the country's emphasis on NB-IoT technology.

This year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission issued the "Notice on Launching 2019 Special Actions to Deepen the Speeding up of Broadband Networks and Supporting the Development of High-Quality Economy." It is mentioned that for mobile IoT applications such as logistics, it is necessary to further upgrade the NB-IoT (narrowband Internet of Things) network capability and continuously improve the NB-IoT network coverage. Establish a mobile Internet of Things development monitoring system to promote the development of NB-IoT applications and industries.

Breakthrough: from standard freeze to deployment in 48 countries

From standard freeze to large-scale commercial use, NB-IoT only took three years.

On June 22, 2016, the NB-IoT standard was frozen. As of May 2019, in just three years, 84 operators in 48 countries have deployed the NB-IoT Internet of Things.

In China, it is estimated that 900,000 NB-IoT base stations will be built in 2019, and more than 1.5 million NB-IoT base stations will be built by 2020. By 2025, the NB-IoT base station will reach 3 million.

At present, China Mobile has built more than 200,000 NB-IoT base stations nationwide, covering 346 cities. According to China Mobile's forecast, at the end of 2019, China's operators had more than 1.1 billion cellular IoT connections, of which China Mobile's cellular connectivity exceeded 780 million.

It is reported that in 2018, China Mobile Internet of Things terminal subsidy costs 2 billion yuan, of which 1 billion is dedicated to NB-IoT, the maximum subsidy rate can reach 80%, and also launched 20 yuan and 40 yuan two-speed NB-IoT package, I hope to meet the needs of different industry customers for the network.

As early as 2018, China Telecom has built the world's largest NB-IoT network, built more than 400,000 NB-IoT base stations, achieving full coverage of urban and rural areas, and carrying 100 million IoT connections. In terms of tariffs, China Telecom released the NB-IoT service package on June 20, 2018. The tariff package is charged according to the “number of connections”. The number of connections specified in the package is different, and the number of connections beyond the package is charged separately.

During the 517 internet shopping festival last year, China Unicom announced that it has completed the upgrade of 300,000 NB-IoT base stations, and has achieved nationwide coverage of the Internet of Things.

Future: NB-IoT will become the mainstream technology of 5G Internet of Things

In 2016, 3GPP first established the R13 version of the NB-IoT standard. At this stage, it has evolved to R14. Currently, 3GPP is advancing the development of NB-IoT's R15 and R16 version standards, which will become part of the 5G Internet of Things.

Although 84 operators in 48 countries have deployed the NB-IoT Internet of Things, in the field of Internet of Things, NB-IoT will not stand out, and LoRa is beginning to develop.

The data shows that 52 operators around the world are deploying LoRa networks, and the number is increasing. These networks are in the United States, Canada, Brazil, China, Russia, India, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries and regions, and are in more than 100 countries. Conduct a pilot.

To this end, last year, NB-IoT and LoRa were the ones who discussed the mainstream technology of the future Internet of Things. The industry generally believes that NB-IoT is the main and LoRa is the supplement. Some reports show that NB-IoT is expected to become the mainstream technology of 5G Internet of Things in 2025. Thanks to the strong promotion of the Chinese government, the Chinese market is expected to account for 40% of the global market. As of April 2019, NB-IoT chip manufacturers have reached 14, with more than 100 module manufacturers and more than 1,000 application terminals.

At this stage, the NB-IoT vertical application industry mainly focuses on the transportation industry, logistics industry, health care, commodity retail industry, smart meter reading, public facilities, smart home, intelligent agriculture, industrial manufacturing, enterprise energy management, and enterprise security protection. Demand has become a market for NB-IoT growth. The data shows that NB-IoT's earliest commercial "three meters" (electric meters, gas meters, water meters) field has achieved millions of shipments in 2018.

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