The module provides secure, private communications over licensed spectrum with guaranteed quality of service. It supports peak downlink rates of up to 227 kbps and uplink rates of up to 21 kbps. Simultaneous support for three RF bands means that the same module may be used in most geographic regions.
The benefits of NB-IoT over other cellular radio technologies include lower device complexity, ultra-low power operation and support for up to 150,000 devices per single cellular cell. Most significantly, the technology offers a 20 dB link budget improvement over GPRS to give excellent performance under poor coverage conditions such as underground or inside buildings.
Compared with unlicensed spectrum Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) solutions, NB-IoT offers greater security and freedom from interference because it uses a licensed spectrum based network.
Other advantages include lower latency than mesh networks, thanks to its point-to-point topology, the ability to run it adjacent to existing 2G and LTE networks - it needs just 200 kHz of bandwidth - and a higher transmit power limit, which improves reliability and range. It also allows for robust 2-way communication which means that features such as firmware upgrade over the air are achievable. Furthermore, global roaming is possible with NB-IoT, which is not the case with localized unlicensed spectrum based technologies.
Samples of the SARA-N2 NB-IoT module are currently scheduled for Q4 2016, with full production planned for early 2017.
More information: https://www.u-blox.com/en/product/sara-n2