Cat-M1 is a variant of 3GPP LTE standardised in 3GPP Release 13. It will deliver maximum upstream and downstream bandwidths of 1Mbps using 1.4MHz of spectrum. The protocol has been designed for simplicity to reduce device costs, which are expected to be as low as $10.
Ericsson says the demo was staged using a Qualcomm MDM9206 modem chip operating the 700MHz band and the Ericsson 17A network software.
According to Ericsson, its 17A software ”harnesses a combination of powerful software features to deliver extended coverage, lower device cost relative to mobile broadband devices, and overall lower power consumption … [and] will facilitate a boom in new devices connecting a range of internet connected ’things’ driving productivity and creativity across a range of industries.”
Qualcomm said the MDM9206 modem represents the company’s latest innovation supporting low-data, low-cost, low-power and low-bandwidth IoT applications and services.
“This is an important milestone that will also support the delivery of a new range of IoT services such as smart energy, asset tracking, industrial control, and automation, building security, etc. … The category M1 and NB-1 LTE modes designed in the MDM9206 modem bring many enhancements and optimisations to LTE that will help reduce IoT device complexity.”
Telstra’s group managing director networks, Mike Wright, said Cat-M1 represented “a significant step towards delivering cellular-based IoT capabilities. … Cat-M1 will deliver both longer battery life and extended depth of coverage benefits that will be further complemented with the expected arrival of Narrowband IoT (Cat-NB1) devices later next year, along with a progression toward the greatly reduced module costs.”
Telstra has given no indication of Cat-M1 deployment plans. However the technology should be commercially available early next year. AT&T is already trialling Cat-M1 already and has said it will be rolling it out in 2017.