Tech 101 from Symmetry Electronics: What is Cat-M1?
Tech 101: What is Cat-M1?
Cat-M1 stands for Category M1. It’s a cellular communication technology yielding download speeds between 200 kbps and 400 kpbs. This makes Cat-M1 ideal for cellular IoT devices to send and receive data.
Until Cat-M1, the only option to connect IoT devices was using existing 4G cellular networks designed for smartphones and voice data. Smartphones use a lot of data and power to transmit and receive, thus contributing to higher operational costs and higher priced hardware, such as modems.
IoT devices need to operate 24/7/365 and since many IoT devices must function unattended, sometimes at remote locations where no power grid is available, there is no effective way to provide power.
Cellular network providers responded by developing LTE Cat-M1. The service uses a tiny sliver of bandwidth on the secure, reliable LTE network. Because the corresponding Cat-M1 modems need to support less bandwidth, they cost less to operate, while taking advantage of the modern features of the LTE network.
That is particularly important because while most of us own just one smartphone, IoT applications will typically involve dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of devices. Since Cat-M1 modems require far less power, they’ll let devices operate on solar power or batteries, in some applications, for years without a recharge.
Cat-M1 modems have inexpensive cellular access while using all the advantages of the LTE network. This makes it feasible to connect each device, which is crucial on projects with a lot of IoT devices requiring a low cost per unit. Efficiency is also reflected in coverage. Current coverage struggles with in-building or underground areas. Cat-M1 modems using LTE should solve this issue.
Sign up to get tech news, product updates and store promos from Symmetry Electronics.Subscribe