When Engaging In A Cellular IoT LPWA Deployment, More Than Just The Device Hardware Must Be Considered – Part 2

Rich Pellegrini
Sr. Product Manager, IoT, iBASIS 

Not all Countries Support Both LTE-M and NB-IoT

Depending on the network technology available or the vendor equipment used in constructing a particular MNO’s network, that MNO will most likely implement LTE-M or NB-IoT, but usually not both. That’s because, depending on which camp the network vendor is in, it is easier for the MNO to upgrade their existing core network equipment to support LTE-M or NB-IoT. From a network deployment perspective, the following market observations should be considered with respect to each LPWA technology:


  • Deployments are slower than expected
  • Some are discontinuing rollouts and waiting for 5G (NTT DOCOMO)
  • More involved software upgrade to the LTE network than LTE-M
  • Discussions on monetization (cost of network vs revenue expectations)
  • Roaming agreements are not in place
  • Power Saving Mode (PSM) support (PSM and eDRX) is spotty


  • Deployments are progressing steadily
  • Roaming agreements are progressing
  • iSIM will contribute to additional power savings
  • Power Saving Mode (PSM) support (PSM and eDRX) is spotty

Roaming Support and Power Mode Support are Additional Considerations

As one of the world’s largest international carriers with multiple MNO partners, iBASIS has firsthand experience with networks supporting LTE-M and NB-IoT technology. While LTE-M and NB-IoT rollouts are still in progress, based on our experience, support for LTE-M and associated LTE-M roaming agreements are more prevalent. Support for power saving modes remains limited. For example, from a total set of MNO network relationships, only a small portion will offer LPWA access. Of those networks, most will support LTE-M and only a few will support NB-IoT. Of the networks that support LTE-M, a little over half will support the PSM power saving mode and fewer than half will support the eDRX power saving mode.  For the networks supporting NB-IoT, almost all will support the PSM power saving mode and about half will support the eDRX power saving mode.

Decisions Aren’t Always as Straightforward as you Might Expect

When going a level deeper in the considerations for your LPWA deployment, you will most likely discover that the decision isn’t as clear-cut as just selecting the device hardware technology. It becomes clear that other considerations must be made, including the deployment location and the network connectivity. As the third iteration (1: 2G/3G**, 2: Cat-0, 3:LTE-M/NB-IoT) of low power cellular device connectivity matures and all design aspects are considered, the most effective way to provide a reliable device connection experience is to provide multiple connectivity technologies in the same design.

Please be sure to contact iBASIS when embarking on your cellular IoT design and, together with our module partners, we can help you in each area of your connectivity design considerations.

** Note, be sure to track 2G and 3G network sunsets as some networks are already shutdown while others may remain as long as 2025.

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Click HERE to read Part 1 of this series where we highlight how IoT device manufacturers must determine the specific requirements of their IoT device and select the best cellular LPWA standard and also in which countries that standard is supported.

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