Survey of IoT for developing countries: performance analysis of LoRaWAN and cellular NB-IoT networks

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Recently, Internet of Things (IoT) deployments have shown their potential for aiding the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Concerns regarding how the IoT can specifically drive SDGs 6, 11 and 9 in developing countries have been raised with respect to the challenges of deploying licensed and unlicensed low-power wide area network (LPWAN) IoT technologies and their opportunities for IoT consumers and service providers. With IoT infrastructure and protocols being ubiquitous and each being proposed for different SDGs, we review and compare the various performance characteristics of LoRaWAN and NB-IoT networks. From the performance analysis of our networks, NB-IoT, one of the standardised promising cellular IoT solutions for developing countries, is more expensive and less energy-efficient than LoRaWAN. Utilising the same user equip-ment (UE), NB-IoT consumed an excess of 2 mAh of power for joining the network and 1.7 mAh more for a 44-byte uplink message compared to LoRaWAN. However, NB-IoT has the advantage of reliably and securely delivering higher network connection capacity in IoT use cases, leveraging existing cellular infrastructure. With a maximum throughput of 264 bps at 837 ms measured latency, NB-IoT outperformed LoRaWAN and proved robust for machine-type communications. These findings will help IoT consumers and service providers understand the performance differences and deployment challenges of NB-IoT and LoRaWAN and establish new research directions to tackle IoT issues in developing countries. With Nigeria as a case study, for consumers and organisations at a crossroads in their long-term deployment decisions, the proposed LPWAN integrated architecture is an example of the deployment opportunities for consumer and industrial IoT applications in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2224
Number of pages31
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2021


  • cellular networks
  • developing countries
  • internet of things (IoT)
  • licensed
  • narrowband internet of things
  • rural areas
  • test network
  • unlicensed


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