The 5G Standard

Riding the NB-IoT bicycle

May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017

By Matthew Webb, 3GPP rapporteur on Enhancements of NB-IoT (NB_IOTenh).

Participants at the 3GPP RAN (WGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and the SA2 Working Group meetings, hosted by Huawei in Hangzhou this week, have joined a NB-IoT bicycle tour around Hangzhou’s beautiful West Lake.

modules 1000pxThe equipment used is an example NB-IoT use case being deployed in a cellular network in China, as part of a bicycle sharing service ‘ofo’. The bicycles are unlocked via a pin from a smartphone - by scanning a QR code on the bicycle. The pin code wakes up the NB-IoT module, which reports to the server then goes back to sleep until the user finishes the ride. When the customer locks the bicycle, the NB-IoT module re-activates to report the journey information and to generate a new pin for the next user. The NB-IoT module can also wake more often to provide other functions, such as periodic location reports.

By installing NB-IoT modules - which are pin-for-pin compatible with GPRS modules in the existing locks - power consumption is much improved, with the stand-by time extended by years, using the same battery.

The swift Release 13 standardization of the ‘NB1’ category device, followed by the Release 14 enhancements to NB-IoT, completed in March 2017, including multicast, positioning and a reduced 14 dBm power class, have all helped to bring this technology to LPWA (low-power wide-area) IoT products quickly.

With Release 15 now beginning, the evolution of NB-IoT will bring TDD support, increased small cell capability, and a number of new techniques to optimize device power consumption for the Internet of Things.

Zhiqin Wang, director of the Institute of Communications Standards Research at the China Academy of Information & Communications Technology (CAICT), said: "With the maturing of the end-to-end ecosystem, since the start of 2017, there are now chipsets, modules, infrastructure, and applications - as the fruit of 3GPP’s accelerated standardization of NB-IoT."

The joint meetings of RAN Working Groups and SA2 will end today, with the next such gathering set for August 21 – 25, in Berlin. The largest of these groups attracts over 700 participants, with around 2000 registrations for the whole week in Hangzhou – meaning that the bikes had to be shared around!

Further Reading:

Rel-15: See RP-170852, and further RAN contributions to this  sNB_IOTenh2 work item proposal for ‘Further NB-IoT enhancements’.

Rel-14: See RP-161901, and the NB_IOTenh work item for ‘Enhancements of NB-IoT’.

  • to achieve even lower device power consumption,
  • maintaining the coverage and capacity of the NB-IoT network,
  • for ultra-low UE cost


  bikes lake
 lock modules 1000px 
The Ofo bike lock NB-IoT Modules