LTE Cat 1 sits between the high speed LTE categories that are most commonly seen in smartphones and the low speed LTE categories developed specifically for Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine‑to‑Machine (M2M) applications. It is the lowest cost LTE category that still has the required speeds to support data streaming.
Fast LTE categories – LTE Cat 4 and higher – are ideal for mobile broadband applications and have therefore become standard in mobile phones. IoT‑specific categories, such as LTE Cat M1 or Cat NB1 (also known as NB‑IoT), provide much lower data rates, while also providing optimized long battery life cycles and greater in‑building penetration as required by many IoT applications.
What is LTE Cat 1?
With speeds of 10 Mb/s downlink and 5 Mb/s uplink, LTE Cat 1 is ideal for a vast number of more feature‑rich M2M and IoT applications, including those that require video streaming and voice support. To ensure complete population and geographic coverage as LTE rolls out around the world, most LTE Cat 1 devices also provide 3G and 2G fallback connectivity.
In comparison to high speed 4G LTE categories, such as Cat 4 and greater, LTE Cat 1 provides:
- Low power consumption with extended idle and sleep modes
- Less complexity, resulting in a lower cost structure
In comparison to IoT‑specific technologies, such as Cat M1 and NB1, LTE Cat 1 supports:
- Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in current implementations
- Data streaming
- Low latency applications
u‑blox - Leadership in Cat 1 Technology
u‑blox's LARA‑R3 single‑mode LTE Cat 1 platform is the only cellular module in the market to feature a combination of LTE Cat 1 chipset and GNSS receiver, both developed in‑house.
Cat 1 is well suited and ideal for monitoring medium bandwidth use cases, such as electricity meters and smart meter gateways. Such meters don’t need LTE Cat 4's high data speeds of up to 150 Mbps that are designed for consumer mobile video streaming. The amounts of sent data are relatively small, the speed of transmission is not critical and low power operation is desirable, making the Cat 1 a perfect fit.
Cat 1 technology still has sufficient data speeds for many video surveillance use cases, while also supporting voice services via voice over VoLTE. Many alarm services require a voice connection in case of an emergency and many home surveillance solutions make use of fixed‑position HD cameras connected to the cellular network, which allow people to monitor their homes, belongings and even pets, while they’re away from home.
Already, many basic aspects of a fleet’s vehicle and assets are being monitored using cellular LTE coverage. Parameters of importance include mileage, location, stops, engine usage and hours of service. LTE Cat 1 provides cellular in‑vehicle handover, which means connections aren't lost in a moving vehicle. Many LTE Cat 1 implementations are multi‑mode and provide 2G or 3G fallback in areas where LTE networks may not be available.
While VoLTE is in planning for LTE Cat M1, it is not yet implemented by network operators. LTE Cat 1 however already supports VoLTE in current implementations, making it ideally suited for stay‑in‑place solutions, outpatient monitoring and mobile medical alert systems.