LTE-M / NB-IoT modules based on u-blox chipset
16 Feb 2018
LTE-M is a cellular technology specifically designed for the needs of applications targeting the Internet of Things (IoT) or machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
LTE-M is a low‑power wide‑area (LPWA) air interface that lets you connect IoT and M2M devices with medium data rate requirements. It enables longer battery lifecycles and greater in‑building range, as compared to standard cellular technologies such as 2G, 3G, or higher LTE categories. Key features include:
Battery life of up to 10 years on a single charge in some use cases also contributes to lower maintenance costs for deployed devices, even in locations where end devices may not be connected directly to the power grid.
Another benefit is the support of voice functionality via VoLTE (voice over LTE), which means it can be used for applications requiring a level of human interaction, such as for certain health and security applications (for example, stay‑in‑place solutions and alarm panels).
LTE-M was first introduced as LTE Cat M1 in the 3GPP Release 13 standard that also defined Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT or LTE Cat NB1) - both are LPWA technologies in the licensed spectrum. With 3GPP Release 14, the LTE Cat M2 standard has been set. While LTE Cat M1 transmitted data at a bandwidth of 1.4 MHz, LTE Cat M2 will increase to 5 MHz. It will bring improvements in several areas:
LTE-M supports full hand‑over between network cells from a moving vehicle and is therefore well‑suited for mobile use cases with medium data rate needs, such as vehicle tracking, asset tracking, telematics, fleet management and usage‑based insurance.
LTE-M is also ideal for monitoring metering and utility applications via regular and small data transmissions. Network coverage is a key issue in smart metering rollouts. Since meters are commonly located inside buildings or basements, LTE-M's extended range leads to better coverage in hard‑to‑reach areas.
LTE-M can easily provide basic building management functionality, such as HVAC, lighting, and access control with its enhanced indoor range. Since it also features voice functionality via VoLTE, it is also well‑suited for critical applications like security systems and alarm panels.
Due to its extended in‑building range, voice support, and mobility, LTE-M is also a well‑matched air interface choice for connected health applications, such as outpatient monitoring and stay‑in‑place solutions.
Within smart cities, LTE-M can meet a variety of needs and effectively control street lighting, determine waste management pickup schedules, identify free parking spaces, monitor environmental conditions, and survey the condition of roads in a matter of milliseconds.