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What Do You Know About LTE Cat 1 in IoT

Upload date: 2021-01-13

4G LTE Cat1 IoT Introduction | LTE Cat 1 vs Cat 4 | Fibocom

Between LTE CAT1 CAT4, we can safely say that CAT1 is less complex. This makes massive IoT deployments a lot easier with the LTE CAT1 module.

The LTE CAT1 CAT4 modules have gained considerable popularity in the IoT industry. When you are developing an application or your organization is planning a global deployment then you will be able to choose from different LTE modules. Understanding which one will be best suited for your project is the first step to choosing the right module.

As 2G and 3G begins to exit the markets, the IoT industry looks towards new technologies for network connectivity and to enable the smooth functioning of its applications and devices. So we now have cellular technologies which go from CAT 0 to CAT 19 which support 4G connectivity. The more commonly used modules among these are the CAT 1 and CAT 4 modules.

LTE CAT 1 module

The LTE CAT1 module is the lowest cost module in the LTE category. It is at the entry level of the LTE modules offering data rate up 10 Mbps downlink and 5 Mbps uplink. With this data rate, the LTE CAT1 module is able to support a wide range of M2M and IoT applications including:

Voice over LTE (VoLTE)

Data streaming

Video streaming applications

Since the transition from 2G and 3G to 4G is still ongoing in many geographical regions, this is why Fibocom’s LTE CAT1 module also supports 3G and 2G connectivity.

Some of the benefits of the LTE CAT1 module which makes it useful for a wide range of applications are:

Low power consumption – The LTE CAT1 module offers extended idle and sleep modes and allows for low power consumption. This power efficiency of the LTE CAT1 modules makes it useful for many industrial applications.

Low complexity – Between LTE CAT1 CAT4, we can safely say that CAT1 is less complex. This makes massive IoT deployments a lot easier with the LTE CAT1 module.

Low latency – Latency for the LTE CAT1 module is usually between 50ms and 100ms. This is better when compared with LTE CAT M1 and NB-IoT modules. This is also the reason why it is considered more suitable for data streaming.

VoLTE – Its data rate and latency levels make is possible for the LTE CAT1 module to support Voice over LTE. Developers who are looking for IoT connectivity solutions for applications that include voice communications will find LTE CAT1 to be a viable option.

No investment on the network infrastructure and global coverage – The LTE CAT1 completely reuses the standard commercial networks which makes it easy to be adopted by developers without having to worry about network coverage. Additionally, it connects to any LTE network so it provide global coverage.

LTE CAT1 CAT4 comparison

The biggest difference between LTE CAT1 CAT4 is the data rate. While CAT1 offers a maximum of 10Mbps downlink and 5 Mbps uplink, the LTE CAT4 offers a maximum of 150Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink.

3GPP’s release 13 defined LTE CAT-1 bis standard and this allows the module to use a single antenna which saves costs and reduces power consumption. On the other hand, CAT4 may use multiple antennae which increases power consumption making it less viable for industry applications.

At this time, most IoT applications have relatively small data packages and power consumption is the bigger concern. By choosing low data rates, costs can also be reduced in other elements like airtime.

Both LTE CAT1 CAT4 use the same network. So, you will not find an additional cost of deployment for the applications on the mobile operator’s side.

Fibocom’s LTE CAT1 CAT4 modules

Fibocom manufactures LTE CAT1 and CAT4 modules that offer reliability, stability and expected data rates. The products are designed for global coverage and high performance.


What is LTE Cat 1?

With the inevitable retirement of 2G and 3G, an increasing number of innovative IoT companies are seeking new forms of network connectivity that can replace the roles of 2G & 3G while providing excellent network performance, great reliability, secure coverage and ideal cost performance. LTE Cat 1, a communication technology that can address the all above requirements, offers a best-matching solution for medium rate applications.

LTE Cat 1, sometimes also refers as 4G Cat 1, is specifically designed for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) IoT applications. The technology was initially introduced in 3GPP Release 8 in2009 and has become standardized LTE IoT communication technology since then. It supports a maximum downlink speed of 10 Mbit/s and an uplink speed of 5Mbit/sand is believed the ideal solution for scenarios that are not dependent on high-speed data transmission but still require the reliability of the 4G network.

LTE Cat 1vs LTE NB-IoT

To meet the growing demands of IoT applications, 3GPP Release 13 defined Cat M1 and CatNB-1(NB-IoT) standards to address the need for the medium rate and low rate IoT market respectively. The technological advantages of NB-IoT can fully fulfill the requirement of static low rate scenarios. But on the other side, the speed and reliability of LTE Cat M is not as good as expected to cope with the IoT requirements of wearable devices, surveillance cameras and logistic tracking devices, leaving a technological emptiness in the field of middle rate IoTconnectivity.

LTE Cat1, supporting 10 Mbit/s downlink and 5Mbit/s uplink speed, is capable of higher data rates that LTE Cat M and NB-IoT technology can never achieve. This has pushed the IoT companies to return their attention to the already-available LTE Cat 1 technology. This can well explain why in the era of 4G, LTE Cat 1 has maintained quiet in the market for quite a long time, but only re-gains technology companies’ attention with the popularity of wearable devices until recent years.

Fibocom-Timelines of Introduction from LTE Cat.1 to NB-IoT

Image 1:Timelines of Introduction from LTE Cat.1 to NB-IoT

LTE Cat 1 vs LTE Cat 4

Both as popular LTE IoT communication technologies, the key difference between LTE Cat 4 and LTE Cat1 is their data transmission rate and their prices. LTE Cat 4, with a maximum downlink rate of 150Mbps and an uplink rate of 50Mbps, plays better inthe high data rate market by communicating a greater volume of data simultaneously; whereas LTE Cat1 IoT solution presents its advantages with its amazing cost performancein the medium rate market.

The LTE Cat 1, same as LTE Cat 4, is also relying on the same existing 4G LTE network, which means adopting LTE Cat 1 communication technology will cost no extra deployment investment on the network operator’s side. Taking the advantage of technological maturity and global coverage of 4G network, LTE Cat 1 has a strong and reliable network foundation to empower various IoT applications and scenarios.

The advancements of communication technology and the development of innovative IoT platforms and software have contributed greatly to the lowering cost of LTE Cat-1 technology. The current average cost of LTE Cat 1 IoT modulesis only half of that of LTE Cat 4 modules. Compare with other 4G technology, LTE Cat 1 IoT communication provides a cost-effective wireless solution for medium rate applications that can accommodate performance and affordability at the same time.

Fibocom-Applications of NB-IoT, LTE Cat 1& LTE Cat 4

Image 2:Applications of NB-IoT, LTECat 1& LTE Cat4

LTE Cat 1vs LTE Cat 1 bis

In nowadays, when people talk about LTE Cat 1,it is no longer the same meaning as which defined in 3GPP’S Release 8, the term also refers to the newer LTE Cat 1 bis standard that introduced in the later Release 13.

What is LTE Cat 1 bis? The LTE Cat 1 bis is a wireless communication standard that allows IoT devices to adopt single antenna designs while reserving the same level of network capability.

The older LTE Cat 1 standard, like other higher-speed cellular technology, requires 2Rx antennas to support data transmission, making it difficult to be fit into space constraint applications.Before the emergence of LTE Cat 1 bis, the only technologies that support single-antennas designs are Cat 0/Cat M1/Cat NB1, but even with their maximum throughput rate, they are not capable of satisfying the speed requirement of smart wearables. Wearable devices, which are highly sensitive to dimensions, therefore have found challenges in finding suitable wireless communication solutions. By adopting a single-antenna design, LTE Cat 1 bis IoT solution can empower wearable devices to perform more complex functions instead of being accessories of smartphones asin 2015. Additionally, using single antenna design will also help manufacturers save product costs.

Earlier in 2020, Fibocom releases its 4G LTE Cat 1 bis IoT L610 module, which is based on UNISOC 8910DM, the world’s first LTE Cat.1 bis chipset platform. The 4G LTE Cat 1 module has recently completed GCF/CE/NCC certification, and now are fully qualified to be deployed in the overseas market to support the digital transformation of various industries.

Related Topics: #LTE Cat 1
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