Difference between LTE-M and NB-IoT

- Apr 24, 2019-

According to a recent study by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), 102 operators in 52 countries around the world have deployed or launched low-power WANs based on NB-IoT and LTE-M ( Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), in which 20 operators use both standards, and more than 140 operators continue to invest in NB-IoT and LTE-M to support future IoT devices and applications.

LTE-M can be multi-application, NB-IoT durable and high penetration


Both LTE-M and NB-IoT are LPWAN technologies defined by the organization responsible for LTE and 5G standards, 3GPP, in its 13th edition (Release 13). They also have low-cost, low-power features, and have mobile network security and privacy advantages. And enable operators to leverage the existing mobile communications infrastructure to extend the deployment of IoT devices.


The two technologies can complement each other to a certain extent, and the difference in some characteristics becomes the consideration of the enterprise selection. Specifically, the most significant difference between LTE-M and NB-IoT is delay, voice support, transmission rate and setting scenario.


Latency refers to the time required to enter the network and send messages. The device can collect the information and transmit the packets to the cloud or real-time communication. Therefore, mission-critical applications such as smart building alarm systems require real-time (Mission-Critical). Applications) LTE-M will be the first choice, and NB-IoT can be used for timing monitoring devices such as smart water meters, and it will be more durable due to lower power consumption. Compared with NB-IoT, LTE-M can transmit voice in addition to data. The main difference is that although LTE-M technology supports voice transmission, it is up to each operator to decide whether to implement it on its network.


Transmission rate is another technology choice. Higher speed means more data can be transmitted over the network in a certain period of time. It is especially important for data-intensive IoT applications such as home security and wearable devices; technically The LTE-M terminal supports a larger bandwidth, providing a transmission rate of up to 1 Mbps much larger than the NB-IoT uplink and downlink peak rate, thereby allowing more data throughput.


In terms of equipment installation location, both technologies can provide several times the transmission range of traditional LTE. However, NB-IoT has long-distance propagation characteristics through walls and metal conduits, so it has better penetration in indoors and underground than LTE-M. force.


On the other hand, LTE-M can be used in mobile because it has the switching capability of different base stations. The stronger mobility also enables the technology to be applied in the fields of connected vehicles, trackers and the like.