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DECT-2020 New Radio (NR) and IoT: An Overview

Feb. 6, 2023
An overview of the key capabilities and features of the DECT-2020 NR standard, a vital connectivity technology for IoT solutions, and its sustainability benefits.

DECT-2020 New Radio (NR) is the first non-cellular 5G technology designed for the Internet of Things (IoT) standardized by ETSI. ETSI published the first version of the standard in June 2020. The International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) has included it as part of the 5G NR standards within IMT2020 technology recommendation ITU-R M.2150-1.

The value of DECT 2020 NR comes from its potential as a massive IoT technology, able to connect thousands of devices on a single access point. In addition, it offers a streamlined messaging protocol enabling low-latency, highly-reliable connections. Finally, as a 5G standard, it will benefit from a huge and growing 5G ecosystem.

The combination of these benefits presents the IoT market with a single technology that can be applied to multiple use cases. In fact, DECT 2020 NR has potential as a fixed-line replacement technology. This presents enterprises with multiple benefits that extend from solution simplification to ease of solution management. But DECT 2020 NR, as a result of its capabilities, provides the market with a solution that can drive more sustainable solutions and operations.

This whitepaper will first provide an overview of the key capabilities and features of the DECT 2020 NR standard. It will then review the deployment opportunities that DECT 2020 NR can offer and how it can massively expand the number of IoT uses available to solution providers. This will be followed by its benefits for underserved customer markets, as well as its sustainability benefits. It will conclude with emerging use cases being trialed in the market.

Key Capabilities and Benefits

DECT 2020 NR offers the following features for the IoT market, translating to benefits not available from other connectivity technologies.

Flexible Mesh Network Architecture

In mesh networks, radio nodes can communicate directly with devices, but also act as routers that tunnel traffic between nodes and to the Internet. As a result, a mesh network architecture enables creating coverage and connection quality specific to the needs of the IoT applications using the network. DECT-2020 NR mesh networking supports both very high device densities (more than 1 million portable radio devices per square kilometer and very low densities (as low as 115 devices per square kilometer), as demonstrated in the performance study from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Multi-application IoT scenarios, such as factories and distribution centers, can benefit from mesh networks where network configuration can be designed for the devices and traffic needs that can vary across different operational environments.

Unlicensed and Global Shared Spectrum

DECT 2020 NR operates in the unlicensed spectrum band below 6 Gigahertz (GHz) with primary operation on the 1.9 GHz band. Using unlicensed spectrum avoids the costs of operating on mobile operator networks. As a mesh technology, issues of spectrum noise are limited, as devices have multiple nodes to use for network connectivity. Lowering the cost of connectivity by using unlicensed spectrum expands IoT technologies to more price-sensitive markets, such as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and developing regions.

Low Latency and Dense Massive Network

In factory environments where multiple devices, such as mobile robots, tugs, forklifts, tools, and people are moving and operating in the same vicinity, network latency is important for controlling machine operations and location. As a mesh technology, DECT 2020 NR latency can be improved by densifying the radio nodes. In evaluation by ETSI (TR103.810) DECT-2020 is proven to achieve single hop latencies as low as 1 millisecond.

Automatic Configuration and Self-Healing Topology

In mesh networks, intelligence is built into the radio nodes for device communications and traffic routing. These features enable self-install networks that will automatically configure and choose the most optimum traffic routing. The benefit is less time configuring and managing networks for companies and firms without Information Technology (IT) know-how and personnel.

Data Throughput and Range

Data throughput in the unlicensed spectrum will vary by region based on the maximum operating bandwidth set by regulators. For DECT 2020 NR, a throughput of more than 80Mbps in a 13.8 Mega Hertz (MHz) channel without MIMO is possible. The range is as far as 2 kilometers outdoors in line-of-sight configurations to hundreds of meters indoors. This kind of capacity combined with node densification options, as well as range, allows serving many different vertical markets from outdoor environments, such as utilities (grid and meter monitoring), to indoor/yard environments, such as warehouses and factories (robotics, machine monitoring, asset tracking).

Low Power Consumption

Early studies of DECT 2020 by Tampere University in Finland showed that it was 60% more power efficient than cellular Low-Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies. A recent analysis performed by Wirepas when DECT 2020 NR software is applied to Bluetooth silicon shows it to be 24 times more efficient than Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT). In the same analysis, when DECT 2020 software is flashed onto cellular chips, DECT 2020 demonstrated a 2.4 times improvement in power efficiency over NB-IoT devices.


Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 128-bit, with Cipher-based Message Authentication Code (CMAC) link level security for data integrity protection, is built into the DECT 2020 NR standard. It can also support other application layer security protocols depending on regulations. As a technology for private networks, additional security comes from on-site data storage requirements in markets such as industrial and government.

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