Reduced RF bandwidth is allowing Cellular LTE to expand into new IoT usage scenarios, by providing improved support for low-cost and energy-efficient MTC (Machine Type Communications) devices.
Metering, environmental & industrial monitoring, object location tracking, e-health, wearables and sensors are just some of the applications for LTE MTC. Lower latency will also enable support for new applications that include traffic safety & control, as well as monitoring and management of critical infrastructure and industry processes.
LTE current, and upcoming, standards for M2M/IoT include:
- LTE Cat-1: Provides downlink data rate sufficient for most M2M applications. Best of all, changes to current 2G/3G equipment designs can be minimised by the implementation of a single antenna. Most US mobile operators have committed to/enabled Cat-1 on networks with a range of Cat-1 modules to be available from late 2015 through 2016 from various device manufacturers.
- LTE Cat-M: Standard ratified with 3GPP in March 2016. Anticipated enhancements to Cat-1 include modem simplification, reduced bandwidth to 1.4MHz, range of power saving options for ultra-long battery life and extended coverage for remote/harsh environments.
- NB-IoT: This new specification is set to rival other narrowband LTE specifications for 3GPP’s consideration of choice of standards for 4G M2M | IoT communications. NB-IoT proponents argue that without the need for expensive network infrastructure and chipset investments, NB-LTE by leveraging existing LTE network technology enables fast adoption and economies of scale maximisation.