What is LTE Cat-M2?

What is LTE Cat-M2? What is is used for? What are its specifications?

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- everything RF

Mar 12, 2023


LTE Cat-M2 is the second category of Long Term Evolution Machine Type Communication (LTE-M) standard which was introduced in 3GPP Release 14. Like its predecessor, LTE Cat M1, Cat M2 is a low-power wide-area (LPWA) cellular technology that was developed to support the Internet of Things (IoT). LTE Cat-M2 is a direct upgrade to LTE Cat-M1 offering more than three times the bandwidth, several times the download and upload speed of Cat-M1, lower power consumption, enhanced coverage, and longer battery life.

Just Like LTE Cat-M1, LTE Cat-M2 also operates using existing LTE networks, within the same LTE band used for cellular applications. This is advantageous to most carriers as they don’t need to spend resources to create new antennas. They simply have to upload new software/firmware as long as the devices operate within their LTE network. Since this technology co-exists 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.

Compared to LTE Cat-M1, LTE Cat-M2 enhanced certain capabilities like data rate and bandwidth. LTE Cat-M2 supports a peak uplink data rate of around 7 Mbps and a peak downlink data rate of around 4 Mbps compared to LTE Cat M1’s 1 Mbps. LTE Cat M2 also has a bandwidth of 5 MHz compared to LTE Cat M1’s 1.4 MHz. Like LTE Cat M1, LTE Cat M2 also operates in both Half-Duplex and Full-Duplex modes. Thus, LTE Cat-M2 offers the same advantages as Cat M1, but with faster speeds. These fast data speeds of LTE Cat M2 make it suitable for applications that require real-time data transfer.

LTE Cat-M2 also has valuable power-saving features, including a Power Saving Mode (PSM) and Extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRx). PSM allows devices to sleep when not in use so that they don’t drain the battery sending location updates. Cellular devices also periodically check with the network to see if there is new downlink information. eDRX delays the time between these checks, further extending the battery life. These features are particularly useful for IoT devices designed to operate for extended periods without human intervention. Thus lower power consumption is a significant advantage of LTE Cat M2 over LTE Cat M1.

LTE Cat M2 also supports voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) and text messaging (SMS) services, making it a versatile technology that can support a wide range of applications. One of the key benefits of LTE Cat M2 is its extended coverage range. It can provide coverage in hard-to-reach areas such as basements, underground garages, and remote locations. It achieves this by using a lower frequency band, which allows signals to penetrate buildings and other obstacles more effectively. Like LTE Cat M1, Cat M2 also has a Maximum Coupling Loss (MCL) of 156 dB which is 14 dB more than LTE, making it well-suited for indoor applications and environments that are prone to interference.

In terms of security, LTE Cat M2 offers end-to-end encryption, which ensures that data transmitted over the network is secure and protected from unauthorized access. It also supports secure boot, which provides an additional layer of security by ensuring that only authorized firmware is loaded onto devices.

In order to use Cat M2, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have to upgrade their Cat M1 infrastructure. However, IoT manufacturers won’t need to invest in new technologies as Cat M1 modems are still compatible with Cat M2 networks, and Cat M2 uses the same frequency bands. Since LTE Cat M2 simply requires MNOs to upgrade existing infrastructure, IoT manufacturers won’t have to choose between Cat M2 and Cat M1. Other than the bump in bandwidth and data rates everything else is virtually the same, making LTE Cat M2 the clearly superior technology.


Comparison of Specifications of LTE Cat M1 and Cat M2

LTE Cat M1

LTE Cat M2

3GPP Release

Release 13

Release 14

Downlink Peak Rate

1 Mbit/s

~4 Mbit/s

Uplink Peak Rate

1 Mbit/s

~7 Mbit/s


10–15 ms

10–15 ms

Number of Antennas



Duplex Mode

Full or Half Duplex

Full or Half Duplex

Device Receive Bandwidth

1.4 MHz

5 MHz

Receiver Chains

1 (SISO)

1 (SISO)

Device Transmit Power

20 / 23 dBm

20 / 23 dBm

In conclusion, LTE Cat M2 is an LPWA cellular technology that is designed to provide efficient and cost-effective connectivity for IoT devices. Its extended coverage, low power consumption, and fast data speeds make it a suitable technology for a wide range of IoT devices including sensors, meters, and other low-bandwidth applications. As IoT adoption continues to grow, LTE Cat M2 is likely to play an increasingly important role in providing connectivity for the billions of devices that will be connected to the internet in the coming years.

Click here to learn more about LTE Cat-M1.