Ericsson, Qualcomm and Dutch telecommunications operator, KPN, say they have conducted Europe’s first trial of Cat-M1 (also known as LTE-M) technology in KPN’s test labs in the Netherlands, using the MDM9206 LTE modem.
LTE Cat-M1 is one of the two licensed 4G cellular IoT options standardised by 3GPP earlier this year (along with Cat NB-1, formerly known as NB-IoT). The options will allow mobile network operators to use their 4G spectrum holdings to support narrowband IoT applications at a much lower cost.
This will enable MNOs to compete with various proprietary IoT technologies such as Sigfox, LoRa, Ingenu and the open standard Weightless solution, all of which use unlicensed spectrum.
Cat-M1 supports mobility and medium bitrates, allowing for a wider range of Internet of Things (IoT) use cases than NB-1 – including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), wearables and smart metering for utilities.
The network and device testing of data communication on Cat-M1 utilised the 800 MHz frequency band. This milestone was achieved after successful comprehensive interoperability testing of Qualcomm Technologies’ MDM9206 LTE modem together with Ericsson Networks Software 17A and Ericsson virtual Evolved Packet Core.
Cat-M1 provides a combination of enhanced coverage and long battery life, as well as security-rich and reliable connectivity for a new generation of IoT applications and services.
Cat-M1 is suited to use cases requiring mobility or bitrates in the order of hundreds of kbps, like vehicle telematics, asset tracking, consumer and healthcare wearables, and smart electricity metering.
Amongst the key features of Cat-M1 are:
• Extended coverage with better link budget (up to 15 dB, compared with Cat-1) allowing signals to penetrate through more walls and floors to reach devices deployed deep indoors or in remote locations
• Up to 10+ years of battery life for typical delay-tolerant, low-throughput applications utilizing Power Save Mode and Extended DRX
• Lower device cost due to reduced complexity
• Up to 375 kbps peak rate for half duplex operation.
Thomas Norén, Head of Product Area Network Products, Ericsson, said: "IoT presents great business potential for mobile operators and new IoT connectivity technology like Cat-M1 allows operators to address the vast diversity of IoT use cases across their networks, accelerating IoT growth for industry and society."
Cat-M1 can be fully multiplexed on existing LTE carriers and can provide up to 1 Mbps in full-duplex mode using as little as 1.4 MHz spectrum. In half-duplex operation, the maximum data rate that can be sustained is 300/375 kbps in the downlink/uplink. Cat-M1 also has the possibility of connected mode mobility, which is important for more mobile applications with higher service requirements.
Vieri Vanghi, Vice President, Product Management, Qualcomm Europe, said: “We are pleased to see yet another successful Cat M1 trial based on our MDM9206 LTE modem, which has been designed to support applications and services for the IoT, as well as connect millions of devices at a low cost.
“We look forward to working with Ericsson and KPN in order to bring a whole new range of these IoT services, especially in the areas of transportation, smart energy and asset tracking, to users in Europe.”
The MDM9206 LTE modem represents Qualcomm‘s latest innovation and is engineered to support low-power, low-bandwidth and cost efficient IoT applications and services.
It is designed to support LTE category M1, upgradeable to LTE M1+ NB-1 dual mode with an anticipated upcoming software update. The dual-mode approach combines the best of both technologies and provides a global scalable solution for IoT products well suited for a diverse set of operator deployments.
The category M1 and NB-1 LTE modes designed in the MDM9206 modem bring many enhancements and optimizations to LTE that can help reduce IoT device complexity. The new technologies can also co-exist with today’s LTE infrastructure and spectrum, which offers an alternative solution to proprietary technologies for low-power wide area networks.
See also: KPN trials new LTE-M Internet of Things technology