Licensed and unlicensed connectiviy

For the Internet of Things, many radio technologies are used in many licensed and unlicensed bands. In this short overview, we will only look at the important European frequency bands. The overview is not complete and will be different for other regions such as the USA and Australia. Although the frequencies are often the same or similar, the regulations may be different.

For many applications, an LPWAN network is sufficient. LPWAN is the abbreviation for Low Power Wide Area Network. Wide area networks include GSM, UMTS and LTE. LPWANs include NB-IoT, LTE-M, LoRaWAN, Sigfox, Mioty and many more. Some applications require communication of Sub-GHz technologies at 2400 MHz (Bluetooth / Wi-Fi /Thread). The list of possible technologies is long.

The chart above shows only a fraction of the possible connectivity options in Europe.

In the range of licensed frequency bands, below band 20 with its lowest frequency of 798 MHz, there is another frequency band at 700 MHz and another at 430 MHz used by LTE. In these lower bands, classic LTE-M is also used for NB-IoT and LTE-M. There is no longer a clear separation between frequency band and frequency carrier. Rather, the same bands are also used for the new 5G services. The transition is fluid. However, NB-IoT and LTE-M are already integrated into 5G and will therefore be with us for a very long time.

For the unlicensed frequency bands in the Sub-GHz range, we have only shown the band at 868 MHz in the figure. At 433 MHz and 169 MHz, there are other license-free frequency bands. At 868 MHz we have only shown a few carriers. The frequency range 2400 MHz and 5000 MHz is shown in the second diagram. There we find WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Thread and many more protocols.

Connectivity for wireless IoT is provided by many operators in many bands and there are pros and cons to each which must be considered when making a design choice.

Which carrier or combination of carriers is best for which application is therefore decided on a case-by-case basis. The Crout team is happy to provide consulting on the selection of radio modules, antennas, SIM cards and middleware (LwM2M) to navigate this complex area for the most effective IoT solution.