Vintage Narrowband IoT

Author: Philippe Glynn

What helps makes a good wine? Grapes, warm weather, a good vintner, NB-IOT? OK, clearly the latter would probably not be the first answer provided however we see NB-IOT making a pivotal difference in viniculture and other industries.

Recently Aspire completed a project for a small vineyard in Montenegro to showcase how technology can aid in lowering costs and improving product standards. The concept is very simple, temperature and humidity sensors, placed within the vineyard and periodic readings were taken to ensure normal operating parameters. Any deviation from this could be quickly detected and acted upon. All this information delivered seamlessly back on a Smartphone application. For the vineyard operators a simple and effective solution.

E2E IOT solutions, however, require complex technology solutions, IoT devices require stable long-lived power sources with the ability to operate for years. Coverage considerations need to be managed so that these IoT devices can deliver the required service in the most challenging of environmental situations. It is one thing to place a sensor in a vineyard with excellent radio coverage, another to bury a sensor within the concrete, underwater or in a remote location with poor radio conditions.

To overcome such challenges, several technical features have been delivered within the scope of NB-IOT, from Extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX) and Power Saving mode (PSM) to preserve battery life to extended coverage features allowing connectivity in the most difficult environments. It has been shown that these features (which make up only a subset of the complete set of network IOT solutions) can provide over 10 years of battery life and extend coverage by up to 20dB (which is sufficient to allow connectivity in the most severe conditions).

Capacity also plays a critical role and the mobile network needs to be scalable to adapt to the ever-growing number of IoT devices. Having insufficient radio resources will clearly result in IoT devices not being able to deliver the required data to provide the service and, in some cases, can have a negative effect on network performance for non-IoT users. Understanding and providing accurate capacity and scalability requirements, whilst also understanding the impacts of such is crucial to a seamless IOT environment.

Although many IoT devices are stationary we are seeing more and more mobile IoT devices. This provides another capacity challenge in that there are no longer a fixed number of IoT devices per service area and the predictability of IoT device movement plays an important role.

Aspire is working with network operators and IOT device manufacturers to help deliver E2E delivery NB-IOT services. In doing so it allows for mobile operators to provide IOT services to their customers even in the most challenging circumstances, ensuring device longevity, optimal device performance and minimal network disruption. Aspire specialise in device operability testing, network planning, deployment and optimisation as well as capacity planning and future proofing networks against the growing numbers of devices. Aspire also provide technical consultancy on which technologies to use based on specific service delivery requirements.

Next time you sit down for a well-deserved glass of red, you may consider the technical aspects of bringing it from the vineyard to the kitchen table.

Author: Philippe Glynn