Bulgarian open equipment specialist, Olimex, has started stocking compact modules to add Low-Power NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT) connectivity (LPWAN) to the project: the NB-IoT-BC66 family.

NB-IoT is low power wide area networking technology which uses existing GSM LTE technology and has many advantages versa LoRa,” the company explains. „GSM network quality of service; single GSM cell can talk to up to 100,000 devices; high; communication speed 25.5kbps up and downlink; secure communication using LTE encryption; better range than LoRa both in urban and rural area (* depend on cell operating frequency – best range is on 850MHz.)

Source: https://olimex.wordpress.com/2020/04/07/new-nb-iot-bc66-modules-with-size-only-26×26-mm-contain-everything-you-need-to-add-nb-iot-functionality-in-your-next-project/

Olimex has launched four NB-IoT breakout boards. They are all based on the Quectel BC-66 module. NB-IoT-BC66 is the basic model, NB-IoT-BC66-ANT includes an attached GSM antenna, NB-IoT-BC66H contains a pre-soldered header, NB-IoT-BC66 and NB-IoT-BC66H-ANT combines both a soldered header and an attached antenna.

Olimex BC66 breakout board’s features and specifications:

  • NB-IoT Connectivity
    • Quectel BC-66 with worldwide GSM bands coverage
    • 25.5 kbps uplink and downlink
    • nano SIM card slot
    • u.FL antenna connector + optional antenna
  • I/O Expansion – 3x 10-pin header either unpopulated or fitted with male headers; Level shifters for 5x GPIOs, I2C, SPI, UART
  • Misc – Status LEDs
  • Power Supply –
  • Dimensions – 26×26 mm

Source: https://www.cnx-software.com/2020/04/08/olimex-quectel-bc66-breakout-board/

eModGATE with ESP32

NB-IoT used in industrial solutions

One of many uses of NarrowBand-IoT wireless modems can be communication of edge devices, dedicated to data management, process control (e.g. with MQTT protocol) and monitoring. Latest ESP32-based eModGATE controller from TECHBASE company is a series utilizing MicroPython environment to provide data management solutions for end-points applications. The eModGATE has built-in Wi-Fi/BT modem and can be equipped with additional NarrowBand-IoT modems

eModGATE eqipped with wireless NB-IoT modem are perfect for industrial automation solutions, e.g. data logging, metering, telemetrics, remote monitoring, security and data management through all Industrial IoT applications.

Supported bandwidths:

  • Global-Band LTE CAT-M1:  B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B8/B12/B13/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28/B39;
  • Global-Band LTE CAT NB-IoT1:  B1/B2/B3/B5/B8/B12/B13/B17/B18/B19/B20/B26/B28;
  • GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900Mhz Control Via AT Commands

Supported data transfer:

  • LTE CAT-M1(eMTC) – Uplink up to 375kbps, Downlink up to 300kbps
  • NB-IoT – Uplink up to 66kbps, Downlink up to 34kbps
  • EDGE Class – Uplink up to 236.8Kbps, Downlink up to 236.8Kbps
  • GPRS – Uplink up to 85.6Kbps, Downlink up to 85.6Kbps