eMTC and NB-IoT pave the way to 5G/IoT

About 60 % of today's cellular Internet of Things (IoT) devices use second generation mobile communications technologies, e.g. GPRS. The transition to the third generation will occur in the next few years, especially as the need for higher data rates and long-term network availability increases.

3GPP IoT standardization on the way to 5G

Because LTE is primarily optimized for the mobile broadband market, IoT has generated little demand for the 4G technology up to now. Moreover, the costs for an LTE modem are still relatively high in comparison to a GSM modem. However some aspects of LTE make it increasingly attractive:

  • Improvement of global coverage
  • Long-term availability
  • Technological advantages with respect to spectral efficiency, latency and data throughput

The need for optimized solutions for the IoT market was recognized early, and so specific improvements for machine type communications (MTC) have been developed. For example, Rel. 10 and 11 introduced features to protect the mobile network against overloading as a result of the many IoT devices (SIMTC, NIMTC).

Machine-Type-Communication LTE/LTE-A/LTE-A Pro

With machine type communications enhancements (MTCe) and low cost LTE (LC_LTE), Release 12 introduced optimized solutions to address the main requirements of IoT devices, including low data traffic, low power consumption and low costs:

  • Power saving mode (PSM) suited for sensor networks that only rarely need to send data to the device
  • New LTE device Category 0 that is supposed to have only 50 % of the complexity of a Category 1 modem, achieved by reducing the supported data rate down to 1 Mbps and eliminating full duplex mode and multiple antennas

eMTC, or LTE-M, is part of Release 13 and includes additional cost reduction measures, especially lower bandwidths in the uplink and downlink, lower data rates and reduced transmit power.

An extension of the DRX timer in idle and connected mode should provide a significantly longer battery life of several years. There is also a need for range improvement for applications involving smart meters installed under extreme receive conditions such as in a basement, or for widely dispersed devices such as in agricultural applications. Various techniques, including multiple repetitions of data or less stringent time and error requirements, should provide significant improvements.

Rel. 13 also addresses the extremely low cost requirement of the IoT market with a new technology called NB-IoT. NB-IoT occupies less than 200 kHz of spectrum and can be deployed in-band by reusing free LTE resource blocks, or standalone in the spectrum between neighboring LTE carriers or in free GSM spectrum. The intention is to reuse to a large extent features and functions already available in LTE.

LTE Cat 1
(Rel. 8)

LTE Cat 0
(Rel. 12)

LTE Cat M1
(Rel. 13)

(Rel. 13)
Downlink peak rate 10 Mbps 1 Mbps <1 Mbps 150 kbps
Uplink peak rate 5 Mbps 1 Mbps <1 Mbps 150 kbps
UE receiver bandwidth 20 MHz 20 MHz 1.4 MHz 200 kHz
Max. UE transmit power 23 dBm 23 dBm 23 dBm or 20 dBm 23 dBm or 20 dBm
Duplex mode Full duplex Half duplex (opt.) Half duplex (opt.) Half duplex

In Release 14, we can expect further improvements and optimizations to address the mission critical IoT market, for example by reducing latency down to 1 ms or by enabling vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications. These activities will also pave the way for the fifth generation of mobile radio (5G), for which extremely low latency, very long battery life and an enormous number of devices also play a major role.

Rohde & Schwarz solutions for IoT

Rohde & Schwarz is the right partner for making your IoT products happen. From GSM to 4G, from R&D to conformance, from testing chipsets and assembled devices to infrastructure equipment, Rohde & Schwarz can satisfy your test requirements.

The R&S®CMW wireless communication test platform provides solutions to test and verify 3GPP machine type communications (MTC) features as well as LTE Cat 1 and Cat 0 chipsets, modules and devices. It can be combined with the R&S®CMWrun sequencer software tool to automate testing of end-to-end applications. This single platform solution allows a detailed view of different parameters such as mobile signaling traffic, IP data traffic and power consumption. Rohde & Schwarz also offers related conformance test solutions, including solutions for testing the IoT application behavior as defined by the GSMA.

Resources for LTE-M and NB-IoT

  • Sequencer Software Tool

  • As part of Release 13, 3GPP has specified a new radio interface, the Narrowband Internet of Things (NBIoT). NB-IoT is optimized for machine type traffic. It is kept as simple as possible in order to reduce device costs and to minimize battery consumption. In addition, it is also adapted to work in difficult radio conditions, which is a frequent operational area for certain machine type communication devices. Although NBIoT is an independent radio interface, it is tightly connected with LTE, which also shows up in its integration in the current LTE specifications.

    In this whitepaper we introduce the NB-IoT technology with an emphasis on the tight connection to LTE.

video description

Rohde & Schwarz presented a compact solution for narrowband IoT RF performance verification at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona.

video description

Rohde & Schwarz presented the first one-box solutions for protocol, RRM and RF certification testing of eMTC and NB-IoT devices at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona.

Products for LTE-M and NB-IoT

  • R&S®CMW500 Wideband Radio Communication Tester
    • The all-in-one platform supporting all major cellular and non-cellular wireless technologies
    • Protocol testing, including features for machine type communications (MTC) and operator acceptance tests
    • Comprehensive end-to-end testing, incl. advanced IP analysis
  • R&S®CMW290 Functional Radio Communication Tester
    • Functional testing of cellular and non-cellular devices
    • Supports M2M/IoT integration at an excellent price/performance ratio
    • End-to-end testing of IoT applications, including verification of MTC features
  • R&S®CMWrun Sequencer Software Tool
    • Easy and straightforward configuration of test sequences without requiring specific programming knowledge
    • Detailed view of different parameters such as mobile signaling traffic, IP data traffic and power consumption on a single platform
    • Key element of the Rohde & Schwarz award-winning IoT test solution that goes far beyond pure RF and protocol testing
  • R&S®CMW-PQA Test System for Performance Quality Analysis
    • Enables network operators and manufacturers of mobile devices to more closely examine application behavior
    • Checks the number of initiated connections and the generated network traffic volume for each application running on a device
    • Intuitive user interface enables users to quickly and easily configure tests and to analyze results in a clearly structured graphical report.
  • R&S®TS8980 RF Test System Family
    • Integrated test system family for LTE, WCDMA and GSM conformance testing
    • Full coverage for RF conformance test cases
    • Support of LTE network operator acceptance tests
  • R&S®FSV Signal and Spectrum Analyzer
    • Exceptionally fast and versatile signal and spectrum analyzer for users working in the development, production, installation and servicing of RF systems
    • Measurement applications for GSM/EDGE (including EDGE Evolution), WCDMA/HSPA+, LTE, WiMAX™, WLAN, CDMA2000®, and 1xEV-DO vector signal analysis
    • Frequency range up to 4/7/13.6/30/40 GHz and up to 160 MHz signal analysis bandwidth
  • R&S®SMBV100A Vector Signal Generator
    • Excellent RF performance along with very high output level and short setting times
    • Optional internal baseband generator to allow generation of a number of digital standards
    • Support of 3GPP LTE FDD and TDD, LTE-Advanced, 3GPP FDD/HSPA/HSPA+, GSM/EDGE/EDGE Evolution, TD-SCDMA, WLAN, and all other important digital standards
    • Fully fledged GNSS simulator with GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou and QZSS/SBAS
  • R&S®VSE vector signal explorer software
    R&S®VSE vector signal explorer software
    • Brings the experience and power of Rohde & Schwarz signal analysis on your PC
    • Offering a wide range of analysis tools for troubleshooting and optimizing designs
    • Support of R&S®FSL / R&S®FPS / R&S®FSV / R&S®FSVA / R&S®FSW / R&S®RTO
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