HomeIoTCat 1 and Cat 1bis Vs. NB-IoT and LTE-M

Cat 1 and Cat 1bis Vs. NB-IoT and LTE-M

Cat 1 and Cat 1bis Vs. NB-IoT and LTE-M
Illustration: © IoT For All

Selecting LTE Requirements

While you’re designing a mobile IoT product, you could plan for connectivity from the very begin. Instantly, you’re confronted with a troublesome selection: selecting LTE requirements. Which 4G LTE (or 5G NR) normal do you have to design for? The reply will dictate the trail of your connectivity know-how, from which chipsets and modules to make use of to the cellular community carriers you’re employed with. 

For those who’re designing for large IoT deployments—something from good utility meters to wearable client gadgets to industrial autonomous autos—LTE mobile networks offer you 4 decisions. (These are prone to change as we strategy 2030, as 4G LTE networks give method to 5G New Radio [NR]…however we’ll talk about that transition, and its implications for gadget producers, in one other article.) For now, maintain studying for recommendations on which LTE normal will present essentially the most worth on your merchandise, together with widespread use instances for every.

The 4 LTE Requirements for Large IoT   

Immediately’s large IoT connectivity ecosystem provides these LTE requirements, every of which is suitable for a unique set of situations. Listed here are immediately’s decisions, together with a number of normal functions for every: 

1. LTE Cat 1 

Lengthy-term evolution (LTE) networks specify dimension limits for knowledge because it travels throughout mobile networks. In 2008, standardization authority 3GPP printed Launch 8, which outlined specs for person tools (UE) alongside 5 classes. 

The primary of those classes—LTE Cat 1—defines a most knowledge switch charge of 5 megabytes per second for uploads (5 Mbps UL), and 10 Mbps for downloads (10 Mbps DL). That made LTE Cat 1 the primary normal designed particularly for IoT, which usually calls for decrease knowledge charges than, say, streaming Netflix in your cellphone. 

You may suppose a normal that first appeared in 2008 is outdated. In actual fact, the other is true: As a result of LTE Cat 1 is a mature know-how, it’s accessible primarily in every single place, and it supplies sufficient knowledge throughput to help all kinds of use instances. That’s not at all times the case, as we’ll talk about in our protection of NB-IoT and Cat-M, objects three and 4 on this checklist.         

2. LTE Cat 1bis

An LTE Cat 1 module makes use of two antennas. For gadget producers seeking to save area or reduce prices, one antenna could also be extra applicable. Enter LTE Cat 1bis, which is basically a model of the LTE Cat 1 normal (5 Mbps UL and 10 Mbps DL) on single-antenna {hardware}.

A Cat 1bis module might lose some protection in comparison with its dual-antennaed cousin, however the distinction not often interprets to the person’s expertise. When Sequans—producers of the Calliope chipset, the primary LTE platform optimized for Cat 1—performed discipline checks, they discovered that the one antenna misplaced only some decibels of protection in comparison with a dual-antenna Cat 1 module and that the superior sign processing methods of the platform can mitigate this loss. 

Moreover, mobile networks are sometimes uplink restricted, leading to prospects experiencing little to no distinction between using one or two antennas, as reported by thousands and thousands of consumers utilizing just one antenna in real-world deployments. This reveals the relevance of a Cat 1bis optimized platform offering price enhancements whereas offering practically equal Cat 1 efficiency. Lastly, you will need to stress that any Cat 1 community can allow Cat 1bis gadgets with none community change or improve.

All that makes LTE Cat 1bis a wonderful selection for small gadgets with reasonable knowledge necessities, together with voice or video knowledge.

Frequent IoT Use Instances for LTE Cat 1 and LTE Cat 1bis

As a result of they use primarily the identical baseline specification, LTE Cat 1 and Cat 1bis cowl the identical sorts of functions. The distinction is whether or not a single-antenna design will suit your product higher, attributable to financial savings in area or price. (The advantages will fluctuate from undertaking to undertaking, which is why it’s useful to decide on a chip/module supplier with the experience to assist information you to your perfect know-how). Additionally, when utilizing a brand new era devoted Cat 1bis module, one can profit from essentially the most optimized RF and energy consumption efficiency, together with extra options like built-in GNSS or built-in eSIM.

These requirements provide near-universal protection, together with increased knowledge limits than NB-IoT or LTE-M. That makes them notably versatile for gadgets with various knowledge throughput wants and/or multinational deployments. Frequent use instances for LTE Cat 1 embrace: 

  • IoT retail kiosks
  • In-car hotspots
  • Gaming gadgets
  • SmartGrid merchandise
  • Dwelling safety programs
  • Wearable cameras
  • Level-of-Gross sales terminals
  • Well being displays
  • Sensible watches 

For decrease knowledge wants, nevertheless, 3GPP does provide two LTE requirements designed particularly for large IoT initiatives: NB-IoT and LTE-M. 

3. NB-IoT 

By 2015, the IoT business was on the lookout for lower-cost chipsets and modules. Many IoT programs didn’t want wherever shut to five Mbps UL or 10 Mbps DL knowledge charges. That want led to the event of two IoT requirements for LPWANs, as outlined in 3GPP’s Launch 13

The Slim Band Web of Issues (NB-IoT) normal was designed particularly for IoT gadgets with low knowledge necessities. It limits knowledge charges to round 160 kilobytes per second (kbps) in 3GPP Launch 14. For those who don’t want to maneuver a lot knowledge, NB-IoT’s low knowledge charges will help optimize your IoT merchandise for price, energy utilization, and community capability—offered your market carries NB-IoT protection.

Each NB-IoT and LTE-M require upgrades to mobile networks, which has led to non-uniform deployment, globally. In China, India, and components of Europe, NB-IoT is broadly accessible.

Frequent IoT Use Instances for NB-IoT

As a result of NB-IoT provides the bottom knowledge restrict amongst all 4 LTE requirements, use instances are restricted to the types of sensors that transmit very small packets. These typically embrace: 

  • Sensible smoke detectors
  • Parking management programs
  • Agricultural monitoring merchandise
  • Sensible constructing functions (HVAC and lighting management, for example) 
  • Air pollution monitoring programs
  • Industrial IoT sensors
  • A part of the metering functions (notably fuel and water)

4. LTE-M

The LTE-M normal sits someplace between NB-IoT and Cat 1 when it comes to knowledge limits; it permits as much as 1.1 Mbps of knowledge to circulate. Aside from that, it’s fairly just like NB-IoT: optimized for price, energy utilization, and community capability for large IoT programs.

Nevertheless, some areas of the world up to date their mobile infrastructure for NB-IoT, not LTE-M, so it’s not accessible in every single place. In North America, Japan, and—once more—components of Europe, LTE-M is broadly and functionally deployed, but it surely’s not accessible in any respect in China or India.

As we talked about, Cat 1 is obtainable on nearly each mobile community on the planet. For those who serve world markets—and also you don’t need the stock headache of managing a number of SKUs for a similar product—Cat 1 might be your most suitable option. But when your knowledge wants fall between the NB-IoT and the Cat 1 limits, and your markets have protection, LTE-M can provide an awesome mixture of advantages in large IoT deployments.

Frequent IoT Use Instances for LTE-M

The place it’s accessible, LTE-M is a well-liked normal for good metropolis functions, which usually require low latency, however don’t have excessive knowledge wants. This normal can also be used for gentle asset monitoring and monitoring, plus some good gadgets. Pattern use instances for LTE-M connectivity embrace: 

  • Fleet trackers
  • Asset trackers
  • Utility meters (fuel, electrical energy, water, and many others.) 
  • Cell private emergency response programs (mPERS) 

There’s additionally plenty of overlap between the use instances for LTE-M and Cat 1. The LTE-M normal can also be present in related healthcare gadgets, good watches, and point-of-sales terminals, for example.

This space of commonality between LTE-M and Cat 1 results in one other query: How do you identify which LTE normal is correct on your product or undertaking? 

5 Inquiries to Assist Determine the Proper LTE Commonplace

Each large IoT undertaking is totally different, and any of those 4 LTE requirements might present essentially the most advantages for yours. To make the appropriate determination, begin by answering these 5 questions:

  1. What are your targets for mobile connectivity? 

Begin by figuring out your key efficiency indicators (KPIs). What do you want the mobile connection to do? Should it’s optimized for increased knowledge throughput, decrease energy utilization, minimal latency, dependable uptime, or some mixture of those elements? When you set your targets, you can begin making a plan to satisfy them—however at all times maintain the goalpost in thoughts. 

  1. How a lot are you keen to spend? 

Clearly, limiting prices is crucial to any product’s growth. However to get all of the options you need into an IoT gadget, you might want to regulate your price targets. When pricing out your mobile connectivity, think about each the price of the module and the continued price of your knowledge plan. 

  1. What’s your undertaking timeline? 

Including mobile connectivity to your merchandise requires meeting, testing, and relationships with MNOs, and your selection of normal can have an effect on these timelines. If it is advisable to ship your product sooner quite than later, that might change your selection of mobile know-how.

  1. The place do you intend to deploy your IoT gadgets? 

As famous above, NB-IoT and LTE-M aren’t accessible in every single place on the planet, though they’re very mature in some areas, and one can think about using a dual-mode LTE-M/NB-IoT answer. For those who cowl a world market, you’ve gotten two decisions: You may both handle a number of SKUs for every area (and its corresponding LTE normal), or you’ll be able to go together with the worldwide protection of Cat 1 or Cat 1bis.

  1. How a lot future-proofing do you want? 

Be real looking about your product’s lifespan. For those who want it to work for 20 years and usually are not anticipating to launch earlier than 2027, for example, you might want to attend for the approaching swap to 5G NR networks. (We anticipate to see that transition start across the late center of the 2020s.) That mentioned, we anticipate LTE-M and NB-IoT to coexist with 5G NR at the very least by means of 2035, and personal LTE operators will maintain it method past 2040—the purpose being, figuring out how lengthy your product must work within the discipline will help you select the appropriate mobile normal.

If all this appears complicated, that’s as a result of it’s! Probably the most useful tip we are able to provide is to supply your chipsets and modules from a supplier that backs up their merchandise with skilled session. Chipset producers are the specialists in mobile connectivity; work with them to make the only option on your large IoT merchandise. 


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