August 6, 2021

What’s an IoT Network? Everything You Need to Know

The ‘Internet of Things’ concept is the new powerhouse in modern computing. It refers to a series of interconnected devices and sensors that are always online and run on their own. IoT devices are popping up all over the place, from autonomous cars to smartwatches.

As more devices and uses emerge for IoT, so does the need for faster networks with wide ranges. For an IoT network to succeed, it takes a lot of bandwidth. For example, autonomous cars need to transmit and receive massive amounts of data at once. They need to know:

  • The position of all the other cars around them
  • The speed limit of the road
  • The planned route for the trip, as well as the design of the terrain

Those are just a few of the factors at play for a self-driving car. For things to work correctly, you need an IoT network provider that has global coverage and tons of bandwidth. Join us as we break down what IoT networks are and the different options available.

4G LTE IoT Network

IoT devices have been around for longer than you might think. Interconnected devices with intelligent sensors have been around since about 2008. That was long before the development of 5G networks ever started. As a result, companies have come up with other ways to keep their devices online.

In particular, LTE networks can use the Cat-M1 chipset for machine-to-machine connections. Narrowband IoT is also an option for 4G networks. NB-IoT and Cat-M1 will both improve:

  • Device power consumption
  • Network system capacity
  • Range
  • Spectrum efficiency

These perks allow IoT devices to run on 4G LTE networks. Yet, the capabilities pale in comparison to the potential of widespread 5G.

5G IoT Network

5G networks are the actual wave of the future for IoT devices. That’s because 5G networks are:

  • Extremely fast with high bandwidth
  • Near global in range
  • Very secure

With 5G, autonomous cars can operate seamlessly on the road. Smart devices with sensors will also thrive on the network.

A cellular 5G IoT network also provides a ton of benefits for companies. For example, if you make use of a cellular network, there’s no need to build new infrastructure. You can simply make use of the existing cell towers around the world to connect your devices.

So far, there are three primary uses for 5G networks for IoT devices. They are:

  • Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)
  • Massive machine-type communications (mMTC)
  • Ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC)

Each of these uses refers to a specific type of IoT functionality. Let’s take a detailed look at each one.

Enhanced Mobile Broadband

It’s predicted that by 2022, IoT connections will account for more than half of all devices globally. That’s a massive amount of traffic, which is why the 5G network will need some help keeping up. That’s where eMBB comes into play. Its enhanced capabilities will assist in dealing with all the excess traffic.

Massive Machine-Type Communications

The International Telecommunication Union requires that 5G networks must be able to handle 1 million devices per kilometer. That’s due to the prevalence of industrial IoT devices that have a lot of sensors. mMTC 5G comes into play for lots of M2M activity. You can expect to see this type of network pop up in a lot of industrial sectors. mMTC connections keep the data packet sizes small to avoid congestion.

Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communications

IoT devices such as autonomous cars need very low latency. That means there’s very little time required for the vehicle to make a decision. While it doesn’t need a constant internet connection to work, it does need the ability to make very fast decisions. That’s where ultra-reliable and low-latency communications come into play. The URLLC standard ensures that devices can always communicate when they need to and do so quickly.

Summing Things Up

In short, IoT devices need fast and reliable networks. Since they’re constantly communicating and making decisions, only the most robust networks will suffice. For the 4G LTE networks, you need some extra buffs to make things work. Try to incorporate NB-IoT and the Cat-M1 chipset. As we see the prevalence of widespread 5G, you can expect to see the emergence of new IoT technologies, capabilities, and more.

About the author 

Peter Hatch


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