The Future of Cellular IoT Explained – LTE M1, LTE NB-IoT, eSIM, and Battery Life Hype

Telecom companies also want their share of the IoT business, but with 2G to 4G cellular technology often being too power hungry and/or expensive for this market, 2G on-going – or upcoming – sunset depending on your location, LTE Cat M1 and LTE Cat NB1 (aka NB-IoT) standards have been developed, and used in products like Pycom FiPy board, and SARA-R4 and SARA-M2 modules. If you want to have an overview learn about the new LTE IoT standards and the future of cellular IoT, Particle has published a useful presentation – embedded below – dealing with both, as well as eSIM (Embedded SIM), 2G sunset, and battery life expectations.

The main takeaways from my reading of the presentation:

  • LTE NB1 is better suited for low power stationary sensors transmitting a small amount of data a few times a day. Requires new hardware and software
  • LTE M1 can be used for actuators and sensors that needs frequent updates. Requires software update to existing base stations.
  • eSIM are becoming more and more common, and a “blank eSIM” can be activated anywhere in the world by a local mobile network operator. The many LTE bands across operators and countries however complicates things.
  • Consider LTE modules with 3G fallback in markets where LTE is just starting
  • The proclaimed 10 to 15 year battery life is mostly hype with a very large battery and one daily update, with real use cases likely to last 12 to 18 months on a battery charge.

If you are interested in the subject, you may want to read through Particle’s 39-page presentation.

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