Using Analytics to Unleash the Potential of NB-IoT with Performance & Reliability at Scale

The Case for IoT Analytics 

According to a recently published Ericsson report, Exploring IoT Strategies, the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most talked-about topics in the tech industry today. With 20 billion IoT devices predicted in the next 5 years, there are high expectations for commercial possibilities. Massive adoption of IoT services will be realized in a multitude of vertical markets with different needs, but with devices sharing a common end-to-end service infrastructure. 

As the IoT market matures, we can expect to see new use cases and applications across smart cities, smart buildings, smart homes, smart industries and others. The expansion of use cases will be further accelerated by the arrival of 5G technology which will deliver increased system capacity, extremely high data rates, very low latency, and ultra-high reliability and availability. These diverse use cases can be divided into two main categories, depending on their characteristics and requirements:

Massive IoT – very large number of devices, typically sensors, meters and actuators; extremely low device cost and very low amounts of energy consumption for sustained battery life. 

Critical IoT – applications such as traffic safety/control, control of critical infrastructure and connectivity for industrial processes; very high reliability and availability and very low latency. 

New applications will place a number of demanding requirements such as coverage, bandwidth, positioning, and reliability on an end-to-end service infrastructure deployed over many combinations of fixed and wireless technologies. Ensuring the quality of IoT services under the constraints imposed by service resource limitations will be critical for the growth and success of IoT services. Adapting to changing resource needs in real time will only be possible with the ability to source, correlate and aggregate tremendous amounts of data. 

Analytics for Assurance of Narrowband IoT Infrastructure 

The Massive IoT use case category supported by today’s narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology includes monitoring, tracking and automation of a very large number of devices. Used widely in utilities, manufacturing, building management, agriculture, and transport and logistics, this technology is also enabling the development of new kinds of wearable devices. 

The potential applications for IoT run into the millions, with a huge variance in requirements around cost, battery life, coverage, security and reliability. With Massive IoT, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will be deeply intertwined with the supporting infrastructure, bringing the need for a robust analytics capability on the part of the service provider.

Bridging the Gap Between Infrastructure Service Metrics and Business Success

Based on Ericsson’s experience partnering with service providers on NB-IoT deployments, the key to ensuring that IoT service requirements are successfully met lies in incorporating what the service infrastructure detects and reports into relevant business service quality indices for the IoT service as a whole. Once the specific metrics have been defined, the provider can continuously monitor the network to detect anomalies and then automate actions to deal with those issues. Bridging that gap enables the infrastructure provider to prioritize the use of limited resources and do their part in delivering that service.

Ericsson’s Approach to NB-IoT Analytics

Ericsson’s holistic approach is based on the correlation of end-to-end incidents and events spanning devices, networks, and platforms. This approach unlocks operational efficiencies as well as a range of opportunities to deliver new insights to enterprise customers. Ericsson Expert Analytics is the underlying tool, helping to identify and analyze NB-IoT traffic and understand its behavior and impact on the network. It also helps to validate the traffic models in the live network against the traffic model specified by the IoT vendor, minimizing any unexpected impact on network performance.

Ericsson Expert Analytics can isolate specific IoT devices and groups of devices for each enterprise and publish reports on traffic modeling and performance. It can also point out which devices are consuming the most signaling or bandwidth resources, helping to better plan the rollout of devices onto the network.

With Ericsson Expert Analytics supporting NB-IoT network assurance, service providers can:
•    Monitor the rollout and usage of IoT devices and analyze trends in active devices, network connections, network engagement and data transfer for better network planning 
•    Provide access to rich information filtered by network technology, service type, account and location for reporting and SLA management purposes
•    Identify the state of devices and device patterns by location and report as connected, idle, or non-reachable
•    Report on traffic load due to firmware upgrades
•    See mobility and other patterns for events such as signaling storm detection
•    Look at device battery life based on traffic ratio, location, deregistration from the network and more

By enabling deep visibility into network behavior, Ericson Expert Analytics provides rich insights that help solve a wide variety of issues from the network assurance point of view and enable providers to better plan the rollout of the NB-IoT devices in their network.

For more information, go to Ericsson.com/ExpertAnalytics.

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.