So often we’re asked what we know about LTE-M CAT-NB1 (also referred to as Narrowband IoT or NBIoT) and Cat-M1 and roll out plans. The truth is, of course, we work with the Mobile Network Operators and know more than what we are allowed to say because we’re tied to Non-Disclosure Agreements. However, we have found that the GSMA have a really handy list of who’s rolling out what and where…

https://www.gsma.com/iot/mobile-iot-commercial-launches/

…having looked at the GSMA we’re pleased to note that they have classed us as IoT innovators too: https://www.gsma.com/iot/mobile-iot-innovators-directory/#/innovator/filters/searchInput=&selectedLetter=P&filtersValues=||||

If you’re still wondering what the cellular networks have to offer in 2019 read on.

 

Short LTE-M Network Comparison

 

NB1

M1

Bandwidth

about 50 kbps

at least 150 kbps

Power Consumption

depend on the application but in general the NB1 modem stays awake longer transmitting data which means it consumes more power before going back to deep sleep mode

the Cat M1 modem uses less power by sending/receiving quicker and getting to deep sleep mode sooner

Mobility

Doesn’t currently support handover

Supports signal handover from network cell to network cell

Latency

1.4-10s range

10-15 ms range

 

 
What is Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)?

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), also known as LTE Cat NB1 is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) Technology developed for the Internet of things. The NB-IoT specification was frozen in Release 13 of the 3GPP specification (LTE-Advanced Pro), in June 2016. Release 13 defined 14 frequency bands for NB-IoT. In, Release 14 4 more frequency bands were added (11, 25, 31 and 70).

There is tons of good reading around NB-IoT, lots of White papers and documentation. Anyone wanting to use NB-IoT as a network or part of their chosen networks for an IoT application should swat up on what this type of cellular connectivity has to offer. It’s great for some activities and a may present challenges for others.

To summarise our understanding of what applications you can use NB-IoT for we’d say that NB-IoT is brilliant for longer range and deeper penetration in buildings and underground for low data sensing.

We’d also advise that you should research this technology properly if you are thinking of using it for moving objects and tracking. We understand that currently the cell handover on NB-IoT presents some challenges that everyone in the industry is trying to figure out.

 
What are Network Bands

Network Bands are sometimes also called a frequency bands. They are the specific range of radio frequencies (RF) within a spectrum, which is divided among ranges from very low frequencies (vlf) to extremely high frequencies (ehf). Each band has a defined upper and lower frequency limit and each network operator has chosen to use one or several of up to 17 Bands.

 

NBIoT Bands are available via the GSMA standards

NB-IoT Band

Uplink Band

Downlink Band

Bandwidth

Duplex Mode

B1

1920 – 1980 MHz

2110 – 2170 MHz

60 MHz

HD-FDD

B2

1850 – 1910 MHz

1930 – 1990 MHz

60 MHz

HD-FDD

B3

1710 – 1785 MHz

1805 – 1880 MHz

75 MHz

HD-FDD

B5

824 – 849 MHz

869 – 894 MHz

25 MHz

HD-FDD

B8

880 – 915 MHz

925 – 960 MHz

25 MHz

HD-FDD

B11

1427.9 – 1447.9 MHz

1475.9 – 1495.9 MHz

20 MHz

HD-FDD

B12

699 – 716 MHz

729 – 746 MHz

17 MHz

HD-FDD

B13

777 – 787 MHz

746 – 756 MHz

10 MHz

HD-FDD

B17

704 – 716 MHz

734 – 746 MHz

12 MHz

HD-FDD

B18

815 – 830 MHz

860 – 875 MHz

15 MHz

HD-FDD

B19

830 – 845 MHz

875 – 890 MHz

15 MHz

HD-FDD

B20

832 – 862 MHz

791 – 821 MHz

30 MHz

HD-FDD

B25

1850 – 1915 MHz

1930 – 1995 MHz

65 MHz

HD-FDD

B26

814 – 849 MHz

859 – 894 MHz

35 MHz

HD-FDD

B28

703 – 748 MHz

758 – 803 MHz

45 MHz

HD-FDD

B31

452.5 – 457.5 MHz

462.5 – 467.5 MHz

5 MHz

HD-FDD

B66

1710 – 1780 MHz

2110 – 2200 MHz

70/90 MHz

HD-FDD

B70

1695 – 1710 MHz

1995 – 2020 MHz

25 MHz

HD-FDD

Source: https://www.everythingrf.com/community/nb-iot-frequency-bands

 
CAT-M1 Frequency Bands

LTE CAT M1 is low power cellular technology developed for the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. It operates using existing LTE networks and does not have any specific LTE Frequency bands assigned to it (Unlike NB-IoT). In addition, what we understand from our conversations is that regular LTE-M SIMs should work on CAT-M1 networks provided they have been properly provisioned and can authenticate.

 

What Bands do the Pycom Products support
Due to restrictions on the Sequans Monarch chip firmware, in the first release of NB-IoT (and CAT-M1) supported bands were 3, 4, 12,13, 20, and 28.

Modules with hardware version 1.0 on the bottom support only 6 bands unless they were specifically sold as refurbished.

Modules with hardware version 1.2 have support for 17 bands. We do not currently have support for Band 70.

 
What do we know of Mobile Network Operators and their Bands?

Each network operator deploys a band and some of them use multiple. Before you deploy, you should check with the network you want to use our Pycom kit on and make sure you have compatibility.

There’s a list of LTE Bands used on Wikipedia which may be worth checking but please remember, even though it says LTE is available, that doesn’t mean there’s an LTE-M (Cat-NB1 or Cat-M1) network available. Always check.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks#General_information

 

AMERICAS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks#Americas

 

EUROPE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks_in_Europe

 

APAC

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks_in_Asia

And that’s it for now folks.

 

Bettina and the Pycom Team