Design win; NB-IoT technology demonstrated “for real”

February 28, 2017 // By Graham Prophet
u-blox, Swiss maker of wireless and positioning modules and chips; together with Pietro Fiorentini, maker of systems for natural gas metering; and Terranova Italian supplier of Meter Data Management SW (and also part of Pietro Fiorentini Group), have announced the successful results of Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) field trials.

The trials were run on a full working NB-IoT cycle inside a gas meter, with focus on the results achieved in the field, in areas where reachability and battery consumption, as well as product robustness and reliability are crucial. The trials involved two Spanish major gas distribution companies and a “significant number” of Pietro Fiorentini gas meters. NB-IoT technology fully supports a set of advanced functions: bi-directional communication, data encryption at 128 bit and remote commands for meter shut down. All these features are additional to the conventional remote meter reading and gas consumption profiling. The trial covered the whole chain: gas meter – NB-IoT network – communication protocols and finally data acquisition system and meter data management on software provided by Terranova making the data available to any ERP system. The results demonstrated complete end–to–end system functionality, bi-directional communication, and perfect scalability from 2G to NB-IoT.

 

These trials, say the partiicipants, reflect the companies’ eagerness to meet growing demand for Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) connectivity, as delivered by NB-IoT technology, which was standardized by 3GPP in June 2016. As NB-IoT operates on networks within the licensed spectrum, it also offers greater security and freedom from interference and is therefore suitable for critical infrastructure devices, such as utility meters. NB-IoT is power efficient and provides coverage in shielded areas, suiting it for the long lifecycles and underground locations of many meters. Embedded in the gas meter is the u-blox SARA-N2 module, a cellular radio module compliant with 3GPP Release 13. The results achieved are preparatory for further roll-out in the field.

 

u-blox; www.u-blox.com

 

Pietro Fiorentini S.p.a.; www.fiorentini.com