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NB-IoT Development Receives a Hand from Simulation

July 5, 2018
This application note dives into narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT), providing a simulation approach for NB-IoT system development.

The massive amount of expected Internet of Things (IoT) devices will require heavy support from existing wireless networks. Narrowband-IoT (NB- IoT) is a wireless communications technology that enables a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular bands. In the application note, “Simulation Test Bench for NB-IoT Products,” National Instruments presents an overview of NB-IoT requirements and the challenges associated with component design and simulation. The application note demonstrates how the Visual System Simulator (VSS) software can be used for NB-IoT design and analysis by presenting example projects.

The application note explains that NB-IoT will enable operators to provide wireless capability to developing businesses, such as smart metering and tracking. Smart cities and eHealth infrastructure are two industry opportunities that NB-IoT will create, according to the note. With NB-IoT, many devices will be efficiently connected using already established mobile networks and be able to handle small amounts of moderately infrequent two-way data securely and reliably. Furthermore, the NB-IoT standard utilizes a 180-kHz user-equipment (UE) RF bandwidth for both downlinks and uplinks.

NB-IoT is different than cellular technologies, which need large bandwidths along with high data rates and low latency at the expense of lower device battery lifetimes. Rather, NB-IoT requires robust data transmission with significantly lower data rates, long-range coverage, and long device battery lifetimes. Cost in comparison to mobile devices is also mentioned, as many NB-IoT use cases demand a low device price.

A VSS project presented in the note demonstrates operation of an NB-IoT system inside an LTE signal band. In this example, the NB-IoT signal is placed in an unused resource block (RB) within the LTE band. It’s pointed out that the simulation of NB-IoT and LTE coexistence in different operating scenarios supports companies that are involved with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standardization and product development. Also shown is an illustration of narrowband physical uplink shared channel (NPUSCH) encoding. Another example demonstrates NB-IoT operation in the guard band of an LTE signal.

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