LTE Cat 1 is a medium speed LTE standard designed for more feature-rich IoT applications that require higher data speeds.
LTE Cat 1 is the lowest cost LTE category that still has the required speeds to support data streaming and full mobility. The high speed LTE categories – LTE Cat 4 and higher – most commonly seen in smartphones come at a higher power consumption and cost. And the low speed LTE categories developed specifically for Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications provide optimized long battery life cycles and greater in-building penetration, but are limited by their low data rates.
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 LTE-M or NB-IoT, LTE Cat 1 supports:
- Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in current implementations
- Data streaming
- Low latency applications
- Global coverage, because it connects to any LTE network
- Mobile connectivity and handover
Cat 1 technology offers sufficient data speeds and the low latency required for many Industrial applications, such as process monitoring, process control, or access control systems. Video and voice support over VoLTE are also supported, such as for access control systems (remote door opening) and alarm services.
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Many basic aspects of a fleet’s vehicles and assets are already being monitored using cellular LTE coverage. Parameters of importance include mileage, location, stops, engine usage, hours of service, and diagnostic information for monitoring the condition of the vehicle. 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.
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Connected and portable POS systems, ATMs, and vending machines rely on low latency data communication to validate ATM or credit card information. LTE Cat 1’s low latency capability coupled with low power consumption make it very suitable for use in retail or hospitality applications.
Smart city / video surveillance
Many municipalities are using video surveillance and traffic cameras for public safety functions. Often it is difficult to connect these cameras through a wired connection. As a 3GPP-licensed technology, cellular connectivity provides reliable, secure service at speeds that are high enough to transmit high quality HD video.
Cat 1 technology has sufficient data speeds for many video surveillance use cases, while also supporting voice services via VoLTE (Voice over LTE). 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.
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VoLTE is also an important feature for many connected health applications, especially for stay-in-place solutions, outpatient monitoring and mobile medical alert systems, allowing seniors and others with medical needs to communicate directly with a service center or family member. In most regions, LTE Cat 1 has broad coverage through existing LTE networks, limiting concerns about gaps in connectivity.
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