LTE Cat M1 and NB IoT - Which choice do you think is best for your solution?
Updated: Jun 12, 2022
Smartphone revolutionized internet access and unleashed a wave of data and productivity. This major shift in internet access cleared the door for developments in cellular technology's integration into the larger computing landscape, far beyond the phone in your pocket.
As billions of gadgets are connected every day, networks struggle to maintain proper connectivity. There are various things to consider while choosing the correct standard, such as the deployment's location, scaling, and so on. Correct connectivity will aid businesses in improving service quality, lowering costs, and improving productivity.
With the rise of the IoT market has come an increase in the adoption and use of cellular-connected devices. Ultra-low-power, low-bandwidth, and low-cost solutions are required to facilitate the expansion of connected technology.
What is LTE Cat M1
Always-on connectivity is a desirable feature, and LTE Cat M1, also known as LTE-M, is a real boon. LTE-M is a low-power wide-area technology that enables IoT by extending coverage while leveraging an existing LTE network. With an average upload speed of 200 kbps to 400 kbps, LTE Cat M1 was created primarily for IoT projects. Although the upcoming 5G will deliver bandwidth speeds of 1 Gbit per second, LTE-M will be glad to operate at the speed of around 256 Kbit per second.
In inaccessible regions, such as rural country areas or building basements, a reliable network is possible thanks to CAT-M1 technology. LTE-M networks function with 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks, and provide all security features of a mobile network such as confidentiality, data integrity, and mobile equipment identification.
Advantages of LTE Cat M1
It's a cost-effective connectivity solution because of its long battery life. LTE CAT M1 typically operates on a 1.4 MHZ spectrum with a transmit power of 20dbm, which maximizes the system availability of IoT devices by demanding little power. When the devices are not actively connected, the LTE CAT M1 switches to a power-saving mode, which increases operating efficiency while decreasing resource waste.
Service is less expensive
LTE CAT M1 also saves money since it uses existing LTE infrastructure, saves money on new antennae and other network components. LTE CAT M1 modems also use less electricity, making them less expensive to maintain in the long run. LTE-M devices have a data throughput of around 100 kbits/s, so they don't put as much strain on the 4G network. Network carriers may provide service plans similar to those of 2G/3G.
4G networks are half-duplex and have a narrower bandwidth, therefore, devices can connect to them with inexpensive chips.
LTE CAT M1 supports Bi-directional data
This is ideal for alarm monitoring and remote control applications, with latencies of less than a second.
LTE CAT M1 Supports Over-the-Air (OTA) Updates
The OTA feature allows apps to be future-proofed. It saves time and money by allowing software upgrades to be installed remotely.
What is NB-IoT?
NB-IoT and LTE-M will account for over 60% of the 3.6 billion LPWA network connections by 2026. NB-IoT networks are used in 107 of the 162 nations in the globe, and 55 of them use LTE-M. Unfortunately, your devices may not be able to travel freely from one nation to another due to a lack of roaming agreements between telecom companies.
The Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is an LPWAN with a narrow band and a maximum bandwidth of 200kHz that adheres to the LTE standard. NB-IoT can be utilized as a stand-alone application with dedicated frequency or as part of a regular LTE carrier. Thus, in a device, NB-IoT may cohabit happily with 2G, 3G, and 4G. NB- IoT's advantages include interior coverage, cheap cost, long battery life, and better network density, making it perfect for devices in buildings, rural and hard-to-reach locations, and even basements. For many applications, NB-IoT provides a long battery life, sometimes exceeding ten years.
As NB-IoT uses less bandwidth than LTE Cat M1, data transfer speeds are slower, with upload speeds of only 26 kbps. Due to its limited data exchange capacity and inability to facilitate cellular tower handoffs, it can only be used for stationary applications. LTE Cat M1 is appropriate for connected devices.
LTE Cat M1 vs NB-IoT
Various factors determine how much power we need to run a device. Between sending and receiving data, LPWAN allows a device to go into sleep mode to save power. Both technologies feature PSM (power saving mode) and eDRX (extended discontinuous reception) to extend battery life.
A cell phone must switch between cell towers while in motion. While scanning for and connecting to a cell tower consumes more power. LTE-M allows for full mobility and seamless switching between cell towers while conserving power. NB-IoT allows devices to stay connected when moving, although it does not support cell tower handover. As a result, LTE-M is well-suited for mobile use cases such as asset and vehicle tracking, fleet management, and so on.
This means that NB-IoT is only suitable for stationary devices, but LTE-Cat M is suitable for both stationary and mobile devices.
Availability of voice
The inclusion of voice capability via VoLTE is a big advantage of LTE-M. (voice-over LTE). As a result, it can be utilized in applications that require some human engagement, such as health and security. Unfortunately, NB-IoT doesn't support voice functions.
Which is better: NB IoT or LTE M?
Both NB-IoT and LTE-M are designed for devices that need to send and receive low streams of information over lengthy periods. Longer battery life is an advantage of LTE-M and NB-IoT. According to facts, both LTE-M and NB-IoT offer distinct advantages in specific scenarios. However, we believe that LTE-M is the most adaptable of the two. LTE- M’s Stable, future-proof connectivity option works with both fixed and mobile devices and that makes LTE-M better suited for full-fledged commercial applications. NB-IoT, on the other hand, is better suited to fixed devices.
CAT-M is an LTE-based IoT technology. The IoT landscape has benefited from the advent of CAT-M1 as it is well-planned and offers various benefits. LTE The CAT-M1 protocol is a powerful means to link IoT devices to each other and the internet. CAT-M enables stable communication on current networks and longer battery life on battery-powered mobile or stationary devices, thanks to its power-saving modes and extended sleep capabilities. CAT-M1 will continue to be a hotspot for IoT connection, even as 5G approaches.