LTE for Machines (LTE-M)

4G for devices

The model for IoT or Smart devices is that these can be located anywhere but they need some element of communication to the 'cloud' or a server. Often this communication is lightweight, not much data is transmitted or received. With this in mind the requirement for full 4G is overkill.

What is needed is a network that :

  • Has a low power requirement; LTE-M states that a 5WH battery should last 10 years
  • Applications have a low data transmission requirement
  • Transmission is symmetrical, similar data rates required for both upload and download
LTE-M can deliver (O2 figures) 1Mbps using a 1.4MHz channel. So the protocol works over 4G but uses a narrow channel with low data rates. This is often what is required from such devices

Applications that could use LTE-M include:

  • Highway management such as parking, traffic lights, although cameras would place a too high demand on this channel.
  • Environmental management with CO2 sensors, smoke detectors, where demand is rising at this time due to many enviromental concerns
  • Smart meters, which currently use the 2G network but have a low data demand will in future be able to use this network

It is envisaged that LTE-M (or Narrowband IoT) will take over 2G communications for these applications. Thus the MNO will be able to re-factor the 2G frequency for 4G use.