Telco DNA puts NB-IoT to the test for monitoring indoor air quality

Telco DNA puts NB-IoT to the test for monitoring indoor air quality

IoT - Monitoring indoor air quality
Finnish retailer Kesko participated in a pilot trial of DNA's air monitoring network. (Credit: Kesko)

Finnish telecommunications company DNA has teamed up with Ericsson, energy company Enermix and wireless technologies specialist Unseen Technologies to build an NB-IoT network for monitoring indoor air quality.

Narrowband IoT is a low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) radio technology for connecting a broad range of devices to the internet, even in challenging locations.

Along with its partners, DNA has already completed an initial trial of the network, and it’s being offered to utilities customers through the Enermix Talotohtori cloud service.

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Sensors in the aisles at Kesko

A pilot trial saw the partners deploy internet-connected sensors for measuring air pressure and temperature at a retail store run by Kesko, a Finnish supermarket chain.

The retailer is keen on energy efficiency: some time ago, it committed to improving its annual energy efficiency by 65 GWh (gigawatt hours) by the end of 2016, and recently, it announced it had surpassed that target, achieving a 67 GWh improvement – equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 3,400 detached houses or 200 of its K-Supermarkets, according to the company.

While Enermix provided its cloud solutions to the pilot trial, Unseen Technologies was responsible for connecting the devices to the network and ensuring it was in fully working order.

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Benefits of NB-IoT

NB-IoT technology offers increased battery life and caters for devices that may struggle in challenging coverage areas, particularly in environments where the volume of transferred data is relatively small. Other advances include low energy consumption and the reduced need for maintenance.

Another positive for NB-IoT technology is that it can work with 200 KHz-width bands, while the average LTE channel ranges from 10 to 20 MHz. It can also be developed and rolled out quickly, by installing new software in existing 4G (LTE) networks. One band of 200 kHz is estimated to be able to support more than 200,000 devices using an NB-IoT connection per cell.

“The Internet of Things sets new challenges for network resources, as the number of connected devices will multiply,” said Jarkko Laari, director of radio networks at DNA.

“Narrow-Band IoT, or NB-IoT, will respond to this challenge. Depending on the customer need, DNA will extend its NB-IoT technology considerably during 2017.”

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Diverse technology

Robin Kent, director of European operations at network infrastructure specialist Adax, told Internet of Business that NB-IoT is a diverse technology that can work with a plethora of mobile networks.

“NB-IoT solutions will vastly improve indoor coverage, support a massive number of low-throughput devices, provide low-delay sensitivity, ultra-low device cost, low device power consumption and optimised network architecture,” he said.

It can work alongside 2G, 3G and 4G mobile networks and is supported by all major mobile equipment, chipset and module manufacturers. Based on 3GPP standards and operating in a licensed spectrum, it ensures stability, reliability, and security in the future.

“The solution is ideal for smart gas and water meters. With the ability to deliver deep indoor penetration, it can provide a strong, reliable connection where mobile reception might be poor. The meter can also be read remotely,” said Kent.

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