NB-IoT vs. LTE-M: What are the Difference?

NB-IoT vs. LTE-M: What are the Difference?

Time:2023-3-1 Author:Frank Chung
NB-IoT vs. LTE-M: What are the Difference?
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As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands quickly, so does the demand for connectivity across low-power, wide-area networks (LPWAN). LTE-M and NB-IoT are two well-liked LPWAN connectivity solutions. These two standards provide IoT devices in a range of industries with dependable and affordable connectivity. The differences between LTE-M and NB-IoT will be discussed in this article, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

LTE-M vs NB-IoT: What are the Differences?

While LTE-M and NB-IoT both provide dependable and affordable connectivity for IoT devices, there are certain distinctions between the two technologies that make them more appropriate for particular use cases.

Data Rates

Data rates are one of the primary distinctions between LTE-M and NB-IoT. LTE-M has a maximum data throughput of 1 Mbps, which is greater than the 250 Kbps cap of NB-IoT. Because of this, LTE-M is better suited for applications like asset monitoring and video streaming that demand faster data rates.


Both LTE-M and NB-IoT have better coverage than traditional cellular networks. However, LTE-M has a slight edge. While LTE-M offers better coverage indoors, NB-IoT is more suitable for outdoor environments.


Latency is the length of time it takes for data to transfer between two devices. LTE-M is better suited for real-time data processing applications like smart homes and industrial automation since it has a lower latency than NB-IoT.

Power Consumption

Power consumption should be considered because IoT devices frequently need to operate for long periods without being recharged. NB-IoT is better suitable for battery-intensive applications like smart meters and environmental sensors since it consumes less power than LTE-M.


Cost is another significant factor to take into account while deciding between LTE-M and NB-IoT. Both technologies use the same cellular infrastructure, however, due to NB-IoT’s lower data rates and enhanced spectral efficiency, it is usually thought to be more cost-effective.

The comparison table lte-m and nb-IoT

Here is a comparison table between LTE-M and NB-IoT:

Bandwidth1.4 MHz or 5 MHz200 kHz
Data RateUp to 1 MbpsUp to 250 Kbps
Latency 10-15 ms1.6-10 seconds
CoverageGoodBetter than LTE
Battery LifeUp to 10 yearsUp to 15 years
Device DensityUp to 50,000/km²Up to 100,000/km²
Network CapacityLimitedLimited

What are the benefits of NB-IoT?

The low power consumption of NB-IoT is one of its main advantages. This makes it perfect for Internet of Things (IoT) applications with lengthy battery lives, such as smart meters and environmental sensors. Moreover, NB-IoT provides enhanced indoor and outdoor coverage, which is crucial for IoT applications that need dependable connectivity in far-off or challenging-to-reach locations.

The affordability of NB-IoT is another benefit. As NB-IoT makes use of existing cellular infrastructure, it is simple to set up and reasonably priced. Improved spectral efficiency provided by NB-IoT further lowers deployment costs by enabling several IoT devices to share the same frequency band.

Limitations of NB-IoT

Limited Bandwidth

NB IoT has limited bandwidth, which could limit its use in applications that require high data rates or large amounts of data.

Limited Range

While NB-IoT offers improved coverage compared to traditional cellular networks, it may have a limited range in certain environments, such as dense urban areas or buildings with thick walls.

Higher Latency

NB IoT has higher latency than LTE-M, which could limit its use in applications that require real-time data processing.

Limited Network Capacity

Like LTE-M, NB-IoT networks may have limited capacity to support a large number of devices, particularly in areas with high device density.


NB-IoT is a complex technology that requires specialized knowledge to deploy and manage, which could limit its adoption in industries or applications where technical expertise is limited.

What are the benefits of LTE-M?

The ability of LTE-M to handle voice and data connections is one of its main advantages. This makes it perfect for real-time communication-required applications including security systems, fleet management, and medical equipment. LTE-M also provides better coverage indoors and outdoors, which is crucial for Internet of Things (IoT) applications that need dependable connectivity in far-off or challenging-to-reach places.

Low latency is another benefit of LTE-M. Data transmission time from one device to another is referred to as latency. Low latency is essential for Internet of Things applications that demand real-time data processing. Because of its low latency, LTE-M is perfect for usage in smart home applications where devices must react rapidly to user inputs.

Limitations of LTE-M

Limited Coverage

Although LTE-M has better coverage than conventional cellular networks, it may still only have partial coverage in some locations, especially those that are rural or isolated. The number of apps that can use LTE-M as a connectivity standard may be constrained as a result.

Greater Price

LTE-M may still be more expensive than other connectivity alternatives, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, even though it is more affordable than other cellular connectivity options. This might restrict its use in markets or applications where cost is an issue.

Restricted availability of the spectrum

LTE-M uses particular frequency bands, which might not be accessible in all areas or nations. This can make LTE-M connectivity less accessible in some places or raise the rollout costs.

Restricted Network Capacity

Particularly in locations with high device density, LTE-M networks may not be able to accommodate a significant number of devices. This might make it more difficult for large-scale IoT deployments to scale LTE-M connectivity.

Use cases for LTE-M and NB-IoT

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Use cases for NB-IoT

  • Smart Metering: With the help of NB-IoT, utilities may remotely monitor and control how much energy is utilized in households and businesses.
  • Asset Tracking: By using NB-IoT for asset tracking, businesses can keep track of the whereabouts and motion of priceless assets like cars, machinery, and cargo.
  • Agriculture: Farmers can improve crop yields and use less water by using NB-IoT to monitor soil moisture, temperature, and other environmental parameters.
  • Smart Cities: In smart cities, NB-IoT can be used to monitor and operate a range of infrastructure, such as streetlights, garbage management, and traffic signals.
  • In the healthcare industry: NB-IoT can be utilized to communicate real-time data to healthcare providers for analysis and diagnosis while also remotely monitoring patient health.

Use cases for LTE-M

  • Fleet management: Employers can use LTE-M to track the location, speed, and other vital information about their cars in real time.
  • Industrial Automation: This technology helps companies to boost production and reduce downtime by monitoring and controlling equipment using LTE-M.
  • Security and surveillance: LTE-M has been used for these areas, including remote monitoring of residences, structures, and other assets.
  • Connected Cars: LTE-M can be used to transmit real-time information about the operation, location, and other crucial parameters of linked autos.
  • Wearables: Wearable devices like fitness trackers and medical sensors can monitor biometric data and other health indicators in real-time thanks to LTE-M technology.


For IoT devices, LTE-M and NB-IoT both provide dependable and affordable connectivity. While NB-IoT is better suited to applications that need long battery life and increased coverage outside, LTE-M is better suited for those that need faster data rates and low latency. It’s important to take into account the particular needs of your IoT application when deciding between LTE-M and NB-IoT and select the standard that best satisfies those needs.

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