NB-IoT is in India and things have never looked this great for the IoT industry here. Because IoT is all about connectivity and wireless is the only way to connect billions of Things. While there are many wireless communication technologies around that are great for specific use cases. A cellular IoT (CIoT) technology, that can actually deliver on the promise of LPWAN was needed. Lo and behold, NB-IoT has arrived and it shall take India to the promised neverland of wireless connectivity nirvana. (Exaggeration? – Read On!!)

Why is NB-IoT key for India specifically?

CIoT technologies (NB-IoT and LTE Cat M1) are globally crucial for the next exponential leap in the IoT industry. However, NB-IoT in India is more crucial than any other country or market of comparable size. Primarily because of the bandwidth limitations in the license free bands in India. While other countries have non-cellular LPWAN IoT technologies (eg: LoRaWAN), the very same technologies are bandwidth constrained in India. In a way NB-IoT is the first LPWAN technology in India that can scale to the magnitude of the Indian IoT demands.

What is the current status of NB-IoT in India?

For a technology like NB-IoT to be viable multiple pieces have to be in place for market adoption. Following are the key factors

  • NB-IoT ready mobile networks

    At the time of this writing limited deployments of NB-IoT networks have started in select cities in India. Meaning MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) are ready and serious about rolling out NB-IoT for real.

  • NB-IoT hardware / module vendors

    NB-IoT has arrived rather late in India when compared to other countries and hence there are dozens of NB-IoT modules available from every major cellular module manufacturer. Many are in the process of rolling out their second generation (cost optimized) modules over the next few months.

NB-IoT India
  • Operational Cost

    The operational cost / connection cost will be a make/break factor for NB-IoT in India. However, We hear from credible sources inside MNOs that the prices in India will be among the lowest globally, and possibly even in the price band of $0.2 to $0.5 /device/month. Which is a viable cost band for most IoT application.

  • Network Coverage

    Network coverage will be another major reason for fast scale up of NB-IoT and if most f the cities are covered by the end of the year, NB-IoT product manufacturers will be scrambling to meet customer demands next year.

  • Design / Development companies that are NB-IoT ready

    Design and development with NB-IoT is moderately different from other cellular technologies. Not so much in the hardware design, but in the way the limited bandwidth of NB-IoT is used effectively for communication. Also, the restricted mobility of NB-IoT devices, unlike the traditional cellular IoT devices, and the communication latency limitations of NB-IoT. A developer must be knowledgeable of these and know how to manage applications to ensure robust and reliable operations.