NB-IoT: Ideal for data collection in underground installations

The disadvantage of underground installations is that they often weaken signal from IoT devices because radio has a hard time penetrating soil, asphalt, or similar.

What is NB-IoT?

NB-IoT is a connectivity protocol that is part of a category called Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). It is a part of the new 5G specifications and is set to be the most common IoT technology in the world. One of the main reasons is that it uses the already common 4G communication infrastructure that is used for smartphones, which gives it a very high coverage without the need for any additional components.

The frequency band is dedicated and as the name implies very narrow banded. This means the devices can use much more power to communicate without losing battery and penetrate through 3 times thicker walls than other standards.

Why is NB-IoT ideal for underground environments?

NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) improves network efficiency significantly compared to other Low Power IoT technologies. It can penetrate enclosed spaces such as wells, chambers, and other underground structures. In addition, it can provide more coverage in indoor environments than any other IoT technology. This makes NB-IoT perfect for measurements in the water distribution network where most of the infrastructure is below ground. 

Recognising the challenge, we at AVK have chosen to offer our IoT portfolio of sensors with the NB-IoT technology. And as briefly mentioned in the above, the benefits of NB-IoT are many:

  • High penetration
  • High connection density (many devices in a small area without disrupting each other)
  • Low deployment and operating costs
  • Wide range
  • Low power consumption (long battery life)

In summary, NB-IoT is a great LPWAN to opt for, if you are looking to deploy stationary, energy-efficient IoT devices in hard-to-reach locations of any scale.

Data Security in NB-IoT

Apart from the benefits mentioned above, NB-IoT also have a high level of data security as it provides the same level of security as 4G and 3G. It supports:

  • Data Integrity
  • Device Identification
  • User Identity Confidentiality
  • Entity Authentication

In AVK, we have chosen to add an extra layer of security with private APN and VPN connections to ensure a complete end-to-end security solution. Because we know how important data security is to our customers and to all consumers that rely on clean and safe drinking water.

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