nb-iot network testing

NB-IoT/LTE-M network testing

A standard LTE add-on but a completely new coverage challenge

Currently, LTE networks are optimized to deliver high data rates for multimedia services that require high bandwidth. Networks for IoT applications, however, will be optimized for

  • Highest availability (deep indoor penetration)
  • Lowest battery consumption

For the various IoT applications, good network coverage is required to ensure a robust NB-IoT / LTE-M connection. Unlike human beings, IoT installations such as smart meters installed in basements are unable to change position in order to obtain a better signal.

Smart meter in the basement

The Network Coverage Challenge

IoT devices normally cannot move to achieve better connectivity

The following tasks are essential to support the planning and deployment of new IoT networks:

  • Tuning coverage models (used by network planning tools)
  • Checking co-existence with other technologies (e.g. NB-IoT vs. LTE/GSM)
  • Verifying general coverage and also use case-specific coverage
  • Troubleshooting in case of bad performance (QoS, QoE)
  • Benchmarking to compare NB-IoT network coverage and other KPIs

For all these tasks, an accurate NB-IoT coverage test solution is essential. You might think that this could be achieved by measuring with NB-IoT devices. However, an NB-IoT device only supports neighbor cell measurements and cell reselection in idle mode. Consequently, accurate NB-IoT coverage measurements are best executed with a network scanner connected to state-of-the-art analysis software.

Scanner TSMx with ROMES tablet and bag

NB-IoT and LTE-M network testing solutions from Rohde & Schwarz

NB-IoT and LTE-M coverage measurements and device/network interaction tests

This NB-IoT / LTE-M test solution is based on the field-proven R&S®ROMES drive test software for measuring network quality with scanners and test smartphones and covers all cellular technologies.

  • In combination with the scanners, R&S®ROMES offers the first LTE/NB-IoT coverage measurement solution that measures true NB-IoT network coverage
  • We also connect NB-IoT and LTE-M devices to our R&S®ROMES drive test software to monitor the NB-IoT and LTE-M device / network interaction and execute UL tests, including power consumption analysis

drive test software is the universal network optimization tool for collecting and analyzing NB-IoT and LTE-M data.

For more detailed information, see our press release “Rohde & Schwarz mobile network testing pioneers NB-IoT field measurements” on the world's first accurate LTE/NB-IoT coverage measurement solution.

Scanner TSMx with ROMES tablet and bag

NB-IoT base station deployment verification and signal quality

During deployment phase, it is important to verify NB-IoT signal transmission as defined in 3GPP. The handheld spectrum analyzer R&S®FSH supports NB-IoT downlink over-the-air signal measurement.

The spectrum overview shows in-band, guard band and stand-alone NB-IoT carrier and DL power boosting. R&S®FSH helps to depict the signal quality in alphanumeric and in visual form of a constellation diagram e.g. showing the QPSK modulation scheme.

Blog posts

NB-IoT network insights through MIB/SIB demodulation

Our scanner-based solution to measure coverage in NB-IoT networks pioneered NB-IoT field measurements in 2017. This post summarizes our customers’ feedback from thousands of kilometers drive and walk tests, their latest key requirements and our answers to these.

This is part five of our IoT blog post series.

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Quality of service in NB-IoT / LTE-M networks

When building NB-IoT and LTE-M networks, it is essential to test the performance of new implementations to ensure that the required network quality is available. Tests to measure quality of service (QoS) in NB-IoT and LTE-M networks are typically performed with IoT modules that are controlled by software.

This is part four of our IoT blog post series.

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Field report with results from NB-IoT UE measurements

This blog post is a field report describing key results that can be obtained by using NB-IoT user equipment as data collection tools. For this, we connected pre-commercial NB-IoT modules and modems to our drive test software for network engineering and optimization ROMES.

This is part three of our IoT blog post series.

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Scanners are a must for NB-IoT coverage measurements

We identified that networks for IoT applications will be optimized for highest availability, particularly with regard to IoT applications under extreme receive conditions such as smart meters in basements. Consequently, operators who are planning and deploying new NB-IoT networks will inevitably face the coverage challenge.

This is part two of our IoT blog post series.

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Overview of Internet of Things technologies

Use cases for the Internet of Things (IoT) are virtually unlimited. This post provides an overview of current technologies with a focus on IoT developments made by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). When it comes to mobile network testing in the IoT market, network coverage is a key concern.

This is part one of our IoT blog post series.

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Ensuring NB-IoT coverage, operation and performance

This webinar discusses that networks for IoT applications require a new approach when deploying and testing cellular IoT. The coordinated use of a network scanner and a cellular IoT device together with our optimization software delivers deep insight into IoT network and service performance, verifying their correct operation and indicating the cause of potential issues.

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The importance of NB-IoT network measurements

Importance of NB-IoT network measurements

This first MNT video in the series "Let's talk IoT" shows typical NB-IoT use cases and discusses the biggest challenge in NB-IoT networks - coverage - and what are means to increase the coverage in downlink and uplink direction. Additionally, we outline why accurate coverage measurements are so important for this new radio system NB-IoT.

Let’s talk IoT – How to test NB-IoT network coverage

How to test NB IoT network coverage

It is very easy to test NB-IoT coverage with our test solution consisting of a network scanner and the analysis software ROMES. You can see how fast the test setup can be configured with a few clicks. You can learn what measurement results you get for NB-IoT and how these results can be interpreted. We certainly can compare the NB-IoT with the LTE scanner results, since we can measure both systems in parallel.

How to test NB-IoT network and system performance

How to test NB-IoT network and system performance

The video presents the Rohde & Schwarz approach of how to test NB-IoT networks that include network performance (is the network access working in an optimal way) and system performance (what is the machine experience). Find out what the key metrics are when using a NB-IoT device for data collection connected to the R&S®ROMES4 mobile network optimization software.

NB-IoT network field measurements and analysis

NB-IoT network field measurements and analysis

This video demonstrates what deep insights into the NB-IoT network you get using a network scanner and a NB-IoT device in parallel, both connected to the R&S®ROMES4 mobile network optimization software. Learn how this measurement setup delivers the most powerful root cause analysis by looking at a real IoT example use case.


Solution guide: mobile network testing

Discover the right test solution for your needs – maximize network quality and performance.

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Application note: R&S®TSMx LTE-M Scanning

LTE-M (also known as Cat M1) is a machine type communication (MTC) standard for IoT applications, specified by 3GPP. This application note provides an overview of the technology, the details of the standard and summarizes the R&S®TSMx scanner features for LTE-M measurements.

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eGuide: Pioneers in NB-IoT testing

This eGuide summarizes what you really need to know about NB-IoT. It talks about the IoT market, use cases, technologies and the importance of a complete test solution for proper network planning, deployment and optimization. The eGuide will be sent to you via email.

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Accurate and fast NB-IoT network measurements

This application card describes the challenges that mobile network operators and network infrastructure suppliers are facing with NB-IoT. The application card provides more details about the scanner-based Rohde & Schwarz NB-IoT network testing solution and what measurement results can be achieved using scanners or NB-IoT devices for data collection.

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NB-IoT measurements with R&S®TSMx scanner

This document describes the use cases of scanner measurements and their functionality. It also gives an answer to the following questions:

  • What is measured?
  • What are typical RF problems in the field?
  • How can the scanner help to solve problems related to NB-IoT?
  • How can we use other scanners (LTE, GSM...) as well to simplify troubleshooting?

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NB-IoT Poster

Speed up time to market of your Internet of Things (IoT) device and network with comprehensive test and measurement solutions from Rohde & Schwarz.

Sign up below in our form and get your free NB-IoT Poster by post.

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R&S IoT device testing

IoT / M2M device testing

In addition to NB-IoT network testing, we focus also on technology and test solutions for other IoT technologies regarding device testing. You can find more videos/webinars, white papers and application notes, IoT use cases and test solutions on the IoT/M2M device testing IoT page.

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