What is LTE Cat M1?

What is LTE Cat M1 and how is it different from NB-IoT?
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Raghav Kapur - everything RF

Jul 26, 2017

LTE Cat M1 is a new low-power wide area (LPWA) cellular technology, specifically designed for the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. It has been developed to support low to medium data rate applications with an upload/download datarate of less than 1 Mbps and can be used in both Half Duplex or Full duplex modes.

LTE CAT M1 operates using existing LTE networks, however unlike NB-IoT (Which operates using un-used spectrum or the guard bands), LTE CAT M1 operates within the same LTE Band used for cellular applications. One of the advantages of this is that it has the ability to handover from cell site to cell site, which makes it possible to use this technology in mobile applications. NB-IoT does not allow porting from cell site to cell site and therefore can only be used for fixed applications i.e those that are limited to the coverage area of a single cell site.

Since this technology co-exists with with 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks it has the benefits of all the security and privacy features of mobile networks, such as support for user identity confidentiality, entity authentication, confidentiality, data integrity, and mobile equipment identification.

The latest LTE CAT M1 Spec was ratified in in Release 13 of the 3GPP specification (LTE-Advanced Pro), in June 2016. As Per Release 13 the technology specs are are follows:

  • Deployment: In-Band LTE
  • Downlnk Peak Data Rate: 1 Mbps
  • Uplink Peak Data Rate: 1 Mbps
  • Latency: 10-15 ms
  • Technology Bandwidth: 1.08 MHz
  • Duplex Technology: Full or Half Duplex
  • Transmit Power Class: 20/23 dBm

Commercial launches of LTE CAT M-1 networks are expected to take place globally this year i.e 2017.

There are a number of other LPWA Technologies that are also being considered for IoT Applications. One of the more popular ones is NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT) - Click here to learn about this technology.