5G has launched, while at the same time some of the 2G and 3G networks are being phased out. But while the need for high bandwidth, speed, and reliability is growing, the majority of IoT connections, such as solutions for alarm systems, asset tracking, and smart meters, don’t have requirements for maximum speed and throughput. Instead, they need simplicity and network efficiency. This is where LTE-M comes into play.
What is LTE-M?
LTE-M is a low power wide area cellular technology specifically designed for IoT. It prioritizes low power, minimal infrastructure, powerful reach over long distances, and scalability for large or growing deployments, allowing the connection of simple devices that transmit low volumes of data over long periods of time with low power consumption. LTE-M also supports relatively fast data throughput, mobility, roaming, and voice services.
Top benefits of LTE-M include:
- Long battery life
- Better coverage for remote/hard to reach devices
- Lower power consumption
From a technical standpoint LTE-M has a number of advantages, and is particularly useful for devices without access to a power supply and thus require a long battery life. With long standby times and at least ten years of battery-powered operation, it is well-suited to remote solutions without easy access to power, such as underground meters.
LTE-M also offers significantly better indoor coverage in locations where it is difficult to connect devices using standard GSM technology, which means devices can still upload data in real time. It uses 4G, so when it comes to speed and latency, performance is good, and it also has access to data/voice/SMS communication channels. This is of particular importance when it comes to things like emergency equipment such as elevators and remote assistance devices. Even more importantly, LTE-M will eventually become an integral part of 5G, which guarantees its longevity, so you won’t need to change your device as technology evolves.
When it comes to costs, LTE-M offers excellent value. Modules are less expensive and with extended stand-alone power, you will see a significant reduction in things like technician call outs, while also limiting the number of devices you need to replace.
Unlike other technology, such as NB-IoT, LTE-M handles hand-over between cell towers, making it ideal for mobile use cases. For example, if a vehicle crosses different network cells, an LTE-M device behaves just like a mobile phone, never dropping the connection – it doesn’t need to re-establish a new connection.
Key LTE-M applications:
LTE-M easily enables monitoring utility applications via regular and small data transmissions, while its extended range means better coverage in hard to reach areas
Automotive & transport
Full hand-over between networks makes LTE-M ideal for use cases with medium data rate needs, such as asset tracking and fleet management
With its extended in-building range, mobility, and voice support, LTE-M is particularly suited for connected health applications, including out-patient monitoring and stay-in-place solutions
LTE-M can facilitate a number of outdoor city needs, such as controlled street lighting, waste management, parking and traffic management, and monitoring of environmental conditions. If we move inside, LTE-M can support building automation, such as controlling access, lighting, and security and alarm systems
If you would like to learn more about what LTE-M can do for your business, please get in touch.