IoT Communication Technologies: Comparative Analysis of nb-iot and Lora Technologies

The rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has placed higher demands on wireless communication technologies and the rapid rise of LP WANs (Low Power ...

Jul 26,2022 | Anne

lpwa standard

The rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has placed higher demands on wireless communication technologies and the rapid rise of LP WANs (Low Power Wide Area Networks) specifically designed for low bandwidthlpwa standard, low power, long range, and heavily connected IoT applications.

IoT application research needs to be conducted to consider many influencing factors, such as node cost, network environment cost, battery life, data information transmission rate (throughput rate), latency, mobility, network coverage issues, and the type of working deployment, etc. It can be said that we have not formed a science and technology personnel can get to meet all the needs of IoT. two major technologies NB-IoT and LoRa Aspects have different technical and commercial characteristics in China, and are the two most promising technologies for the development of the market for low power wide area network communication engineering. Both LPWAN technology levels have wide coverage, many connections, low rate, low cost, low power consumption, etc. Both are suitable for low-power IoT applications and are actively expanding their ecosystem protection.

IoT Communication Technologies

There are many wireless communication technologies in IoT, mainly divided into two categories: one is Zigbee, WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-wave and other short-range communication technologies, and the other is LPWAN, i.e. wide area network communication technology. LPWA can also be divided into two categories: LoRa, SigFox and other technologies that work in unlicensed spectrum, and 2/3/4G cellular communication technologies supported by 3GPP that work in licensed spectrum, such as EC-GSM, LTE Cat-m, NB-IoT, etc.

Both LoR and nb-iot are low-power wide-area IoT technologies, which are the two mainstream technology schools in China.

Introduction of B-IoT and LoRa

LoRa (Long Range) is a method that can be adopted and promoted by Semtech in the United States based on spread spectrum communication technology for ultra-long range wireless information transmission design program, this research program has changed the way we used to teach our country about the compromise development consideration of students' transmission distance and power consumption, providing users with management as a relatively simple one that can realize enterprise long range, low power consumption, and Large-capacity system, and thus continuously expand the sensing network. loRa network is mainly composed of four important parts: terminal (can be built-in LoRa module), gateway (or base station), Server and cloud, and application analysis data can be transmitted in both directions.

NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT) is a technical standard defined by 3GPP standardization organization, which is a narrowband RF technology designed for IoT and is widely used in the world. It uses licensed frequency bands and can coexist with existing networks in three deployment modes: in-band, protected band or independent carrier.

Lola uses frequency bands

B-IoT uses licensed bands and has three deployment modes: standalone deployment, protected-band deployment, and in-band deployment. The mainstream frequency bands internationally are 800 MHz and 900 MHz. China Telecom will deploy NB-IoT in the 800 MHz band, China Unicom will choose 900 MHz to deploy NB-IoT, and China Mobile may re-cultivate the existing 900 MHz band.

LoRa uses license-free ISM bands, but the use of ISM bands through this situation varies from country to country or region to region. In the Chinese economic market, the China LoRa Application Technology Alliance (CLAA), led by ZTE, recommends the use of 470-518 MHz. and 470-510 MHz, the system band, is the radio metering meter as well as the use band. As LoRa is working in the license-free band, no application information is needed to start the research network construction, the network management architecture design is simple and the operation time cost is also low. loRa alliance development is becoming a global national strong support to promote the standardized LoRaWAN protocol for agriculture, which makes some devices conforming to LoRaWAN specification we can achieve interconnection.

Communication distance of NB-IoT and LORA

NB-IoT communication distance

The signal coverage of mobile network depends on the density of base stations and link budget. the link budget for Nb-iot is 164 dB, for gprs is 144 dB (tr 45.820) and for lte is 142.7 dB (tr 36.888). Compared to gprs and lte, nb-iot adds 20 db to the link budget and increases the signal coverage by a factor of 7 in an open environment. 20 db corresponds to the loss of signal penetration capability outside the building and relatively good signal coverage in an indoor environment. In general, the communication distance for nb-iot is 15 km.

LoRa communication distance

LoRa provides a maximum link budget of 168dB and a power output of +20dBm with its unique patented technology. Typically, the wireless range is 1 to 2km in cities and up to 20km in suburban areas.

NB-IoT, LoRa costs for comparison

LPWAN protocols, no matter how powerful, need to be considered for their low cost, otherwise they are unlikely to be viable IoT solutions. LoRa has an advantage in this regard, with the total cost of a LoRaWAN module being about $8-10, about half the price of a cellular LTE module such as NB-IoT. The complexity of NB-IoT networks and higher IP-related costs (licensed bands) add to the total cost of NB-IoT. Upgrading NB-IoT to advanced 4G/LTE base stations is more expensive than deploying LoRa through industrial gateways or overhead gateways. As the market matures, the cost of LoRa technology is expected to fall further.

Application Scenario Comparison

Examples of Nb-iot application scenarios

(1) Bike sharing: widely distributed, low unit density, suitable for operator networks.

(2) Smart meter reading: Owners who do not have a high frequency of collection work and do not have high requirements for network system availability, and do not want to consider their own enterprise self-built base stations

(3) Water accumulation/pipe network monitoring: widely distributed and with low unit density

(4) General wearable series: terminals are distributed throughout the city, suitable for use with operator networks;

(5) Intelligent parking: Ruijie network for "small and light parking " developed geomagnetic vehicle detector, through geomagnetic induction magnetic field changes, to determine whether the vehicle in and out of the parking space. The uplink and downlink adopt NB-IoT standard, dock with OneNET, and support the application of 5G Lianchuang Lab parking platform.

Examples of LoRa application scenarios

(1) Intelligent meter reading: The owner has high requirements for the collection work frequency and needs to do a data analysis, with high requirements for network system availability;

(2) Road parking detector: high collection frequency and certain requirements for terminal life.

(3) Rural areas, such as mining, extractive industries, rural heavy industry, etc. ;

(4) Regional concentration:e.g., universities, liberal education, and campus users want to establish a private network to manage their facilities and applications.


Both NB-IoT and LoRa are currently in the beginning stages of our social development and require input and joint development from all parties. When large-scale deployment has become a realistic problem possibility for students, NB-IoT and LoRa module cost management will naturally be further reduced through. In terms of technical research solution design, in a short period of time, NB-IoT and LoRa will certainly go hand in hand, with common ground, each with one advantage and one disadvantage, and it is difficult to say who overwhelms whom. However, if companies are influenced by the analysis of factors other than information technology solutions, such as the innovation of winning models, the combination of close ties with the application service industry, and the influence of the Internet industry, then for whatever aspect they may have. In this new wave of IoT industry development of the market, the first project construction on the ground, in order to have the opportunity to win the first step. nb-IoT and LoRa not only need to improve the innovation of the product, but also need the innovation of the actual application of the project.

Related Hot Topic

Which of the following LPWA standards has the broadest range of communication?

Sony created the LPWA technology ELTRES, which has a transmission range of more than 100 kilometers while traveling at a speed of 100 km/h. A low-power, wide-area implementation of the 802.11 wireless networking standard using sub-gigahertz frequencies is known as IEEE 802.11ah or Wi-Fi HaLow.

Are LoRaWAN standards open?

According to Donna Moore, CEO and Chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance, "LoRaWAN was created as an open standard from the very beginning, which was acknowledged by the LPWAN community and shown by its rapid global adoption as the LPWAN for IoT."

Z-Wave is still in use.

Through its collaboration, Z-Wave enables application layer interoperability across home control systems made by various manufacturers. Z-Wave solutions are becoming more and more interoperable; there were over 1,700 in 2017, over 2,600 in 2019, and over 4,000 in 2022.

Can LoRa send Internet data?

The LoRa sensors have a transmission range of 1 km to 10 km. The LoRa gateways receive data from the LoRa sensors. The LoRa gateways establish an IP-based connection to the internet and send the data obtained from the embedded LoRa sensors to the Internet, which can be a network, server, or cloud.

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