Module Company u-blox to Release Cat-1 Solutions Starting Next Month

By Paula Bernier September 23, 2015

Swiss company u-blox this month announced new modules supporting LTE Cat-1 for the Internet of Things.

Cat-1 is the first step by the LTE ecosystem to make networking more affordable, lower bandwidth, and more power-efficient for IoT applications, as Sven Etzold, u-blox senior director business marketing, noted during our recent interview at CTIA. The company is in trials with the new technology in England, Portugal, and Spain, said Etzold.

U-blox says its Cat-1 solutions are ideal for industrial and connected-car applications. There are different variants of the u-blox Cat-1 module. TOBY-R201 works in LTE bands 2, 4, 13, 17 and HSPA bands 2, 5. This multi-mode, multi-carrier module has HSPA fallback for North America. Samples of this module will be available next month. There’s also the LARA-R200 (for LTE bands 4 and 13) and the LARA-R202 (for LTE bands 2, 4, and 17). These modules, for the largest North American carriers, are available in a compact 22.0 x 27.5 mm2 LGA form factor, and fit on the nested design pads compatible with other u-blox form factors. The first samples will be available early next year. The company is also planning to deliver additional variants for use in APA and European deployments.

A 3GPP-defined LTE specification, CAT-1 has a maximum downlink speed of 10Mbps, and an upload rate of 5Mbps. Meanwhile, CAT-0, which is addressed in the 3GPP’s Release 12 standard, will allow for even lower bandwidth – with a maximum throughput of 1Mbps – and more power-efficient LTE connectivity in the future.

While the 3GPP, vendors like u-blox, and the cellular carriers that have already invested in and launched services on LTE networks are moving forward with Cat-1 and other more affordable and power-efficient ways to make LTE dovetail with IoT requirements, there are a slew of other companies and organizations pushing the message that the IoT calls for new purpose-built networks. This LTE alternative group includes Ingenu (the former On-Ramp Wireless), Semtech, the LoRa Alliance, and Sigfox.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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Executive Editor, TMC

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