Benefits of Lightweight M2M for NB-IoT and LTE-M Deployments

September 28, 2020

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Emerging 4G low-power wide-area (LPWA) standards, such as narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M, represent massive new growth opportunities in the IoT world. They make device hardware far more cost-effective, fueling the market demand for all things connected. As a result, the IoT market is expanding quickly.

The rapidly growing number of connected devices creates some challenges for network operators and IoT leaders, including:

  • Dense and congested networks.
  • Performance challenges.
  • Possible interferences.

These and other challenges must be addressed to keep an IoT deployment working correctly. For that, you need a dependable, efficient data transfer system. LPWA networking standards like LTE-M and NB-IoT have requirements that differ from other cellular connectivity such as 2G, 3G and regular LTE. Typically, LTE-M and NB-IoT are used for low-power, battery-based devices, so it’s crucial to choose a protocol that can run efficiently on them.

Why You Need to Upgrade to LwM2M Protocols for Your NB-IoT Network

TCP-based protocols such as Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) will perform poorly over NB-IoT networks because NB-IoT has significant latency, conceived to support User Datagram Protocol (UDP) communications. Released in 1999, MQTT initially emerged to link sensors on oil pipelines and communications satellites. While it’s evolved over the past few decades, its original developers at IBM certainly did not have IoT use cases in view when they designed it.

The current protocol that addresses the specific requirements of LPWA technologies best is Lightweight Machine-to-Machine (LwM2M), created by the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA). LwM2M answers the needs of low-power 4G because it was designed with resource-constrained devices in mind. It includes ready-to-use standard objects and device connectivity monitoring, and it supports firmware over-the-air (FOTA) and software over-the-air (SOTA) updates. Since its introduction, LwM2M has been adopted by the U.S.’s top cellular carriers. It has become a common choice for conditions-based IoT monitoring, which relies on triggered events to send out notifications (e.g., when a gas tank is running low or a security sensor detects a problem).

Comparing Efficiency: LwM2M vs. MQTT

While MQTT remains easier to implement and procure, LwM2M offers dramatic savings in data transfers and power consumption. According to research from MachNation:

  • On the initial connection, LwM2M transfers 72% less data than MQTT.
  • In a steady-state device connection, LwM2M transmits 31% less data.
  • When the device reports observations at a rate of twice per minute, LwM2M uses 88% less data.
  • When sending a single platform-to-device message, LwM2M uses 17% less data.
Benefits of Lightweight M2M for NB-IoT and LTE-M Deployments

LwM2M Provides Significant Cost Savings

To illustrate, imagine that every device in a deployment of 25,000 units consumes 2 MB of data per month using MQTT. Assuming a 50% reduction in data usage with LwM2M, each device will use only 1 MB per month over its 36-month lifetime. If the data costs $0.80 per megabyte, the total savings will be $720,000 over the devices’ three-year lifetime.

A Clear Advantage

LwM2M is an ideal choice for IoT deployments using 4G LPWA standards like NB-IoT and LTE-M. That’s why Telit has incorporated LwM2M into more of our solutions and services, including Telit OneEdge™.

Visit our LwM2M overview page to learn more about LwM2M and its ability to enable low-cost remote management for your use case. Check out our webinar, “Mid-Large IoT Deployments: Tools You Need to Guarantee Success,” to solve the challenges around scaling your deployment.