The Internet of Things (IoT) is a compound term which includes all solutions that use the available network technology, data processing and edge computing to come up with smart solutions for everyday applications. Here, we compare three important IoT connectivity solutions of NB, LoRa and Sigfox.
Capabilities of NB
Narrowband (NB) is an IoT connectivity solution, which is defined for devices that employ low data rates. It is perfect for using mobile networks through devices that employ battery power. The NB was presented by 3GPP, the cellular network standards body, which had not produced a solution for low need devices, since 2G, GPRS communication.
This solution has the potential to be the future IoT solution. However, it is way behind providing the required technological support, when compared to other low power options like LoRa and Sigfox. NB IoT solution is offered in two variants, and one of them is not compatible with the current data structure in place.
The 3GPP network was slow to come up with an IoT solution, and this means that narrowband must catch on to other competitors that are already offering good connectivity solutions to smart service providers. However, NB has excellent potential in the future for IoT systems that require the support of hundreds of connections. The connectivity solution will be finally available now and it will create its marketplace over time. It is supported by 3GPP, which can incorporate it into the cellular networks of the future.
Capabilities of LoRa
LoRa is a modulation connectivity solution, which uses a wide area network to provide connectivity to IoT based devices that are present in a large area, using a unified access. It uses the spectrum, which is not currently licensed and makes up around 1% of the available duty cycle of wireless communication.
This means that it can only handle a limited volume and provide a specific bandwidth. The ability to provide control and send data to the devices also remains limited because of the narrow bandwidth. Right now, LoRa is offering the cheapest solution for the WAN support required for operating large IoT networks.
Capabilities of Sigfox
Sigfox is an excellent WAN solution and was the first successful solution for implementing large scale IoT devices. It is a basic technology, which can be implemented using cheap radio modules. However, Sigfox is limited to providing an uplink where devices can send information to the central station. Although it is possible to perform limited downloading, the capacity is significantly restricted in this architecture.
It is the most limited technology, but is easily available in many parts of the world. However, one issue with Sigfox is that it is hard to scale-up, especially when it is limited in terms of holding two-way communication.
We believe that the future belongs to Narrowband IoT connectivity, because it is supported by the global cellular network service designer (3GPP). However, LoRa is an excellent option for current devices which have limited use. Sigfox is already in use and soon will become limited.