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Wireless network technologies for IoT (ART562E)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is undergoing a very fast development phase, accelerated by the needs created by the disruption which represents the pandemic. In fact, the changing habits of all of us, with the creation of new products, has a very intense focus on the internet of things, and this involves the presence of wireless technologies. In this article, we make some considerations about the existing network technologies and how to choose the best one for your business.

The choice of which technology will be used in your product requires special care by the designers. It is not enough to just look at the one which makes it easier to develop, possibly due to the presence of a specialist in it, or even the lower cost.

Several factors must be analyzed when choosing the best technology to be used in your project and this requires knowledge. This knowledge, of course, is directly linked to what each of the technologies can offer when analyzing the cost / benefit ratio.

We must then answer some questions to be able to choose which technology to use in a project:

 

Will the device we intend to develop work inside or outside buildings?

Will the device have access to a power network, or will it need its own power (battery)?

What is the required range?

How often will the device be put into operation? Continuous or intermittent operation?

What types of data should be transmitted? Small or large data packets?

Can data transmission be delayed, or must it be done in real time?

 

Of course, much can still be done before 5G arrives in terms of wireless technology implementation in IoT applications. Let's look at some possibilities, remembering that the arrival of a new technology does not imply that any other technology must be discarded immediately.

Thus, two types of IoT networks find nowadays, before the arrival of 5G, a wide range of uses with deployment in many places.

We can then quote the Narrowband IoT, NB-IoT for short, which is mainly used in applications where devices have an intermittent operation sending small data packets.

We find this type of network in monitoring facilities, for example, in factories where the status of a machine is sent to a central monitoring system.

Of course, in this type of transmission, the modulation technique prevents much information from being handled. Thus, the transmission of sounds or images in real time does not apply.

Another way for mobile networks to be analyzed is the Long-Term Evolution, or LTE.

These networks use 4G technology for NB-IoT networks, but there is a special way for more interactive machine-to-machine (MtM) communication. This technology allows the handling of larger amounts of data, for example, supporting simple video and voice files, which are not supported by NB-IoT.

It is known that more than 120 IoT networks have already been deployed worldwide by major companies such as China Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone etc. All employing NB-IoT.

Among the applications we can mention remote industrial monitoring, cargo tracking, applications in agribusiness, smart cities, etc.

See that these applications require additional analysis of the environment in which they must operate. Many of them operate in hostile environments, with the presence of pollutants, high temperature, high noise level and interference.

If you are thinking of developing devices which have low consumption characteristics, transmitting signal packets and that are low cost, this technology is interesting.

As the GSMA and 3GPP standards adopted this NB-IoT technology as part of their 5G family, meaning it must have a long service life.

Another type of network that will be part of 5G is the LTE-M (Long-Term Evolution - Machine) which uses a technology which allows the handling of large amounts of data.

It does not use alternatives to cell phones with broadband, its transmissions are much safer with encrypted data, as well as have a wide range. See that the arrival of 5G will lead to the possibility of having low latency transmissions which is not possible with 4G.

So, if you are developing your IoT project, you should keep in mind all the possibilities and limitations of the technologies involved.

 

 


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