The LTE-M technology was standardized earlier this year in release 13 of the cellular standard 3GPP. The trial took place using Qualcomm Technologies' test devices using an MDM9206 modem IC and over Ericsson infrastructure. The MDM9206 modem helps equipment manufacturers address cellular connectivity for low data rate IoT applications, such as smart energy and metering, building security, infrastructure, industrial control and automation, retail point of sale, asset tracking, medical, lighting and aftermarket telematics.
LTE-M (Machine Type Communication) can be rolled out on the existing 4G networks and it is complementary to a LoRa network recently installed by KPN as well as to existing machine-to-machine (M2M) use cases on conventional 4G networks, KPN said.
Where LoRa focuses on IoT use cases with a battery lifetime up to 15 years and a maximum data speed of 50 Kbps, LTE-M focuses on use cases that support data speeds up to 1 Mbps and a battery lifetime of multiple years. Based on these characteristics, LTE-M can be positioned between LoRa, mainly sensor based applications, and existing 4G M2M, such as infotainment in cars. Typical use cases for LTE-M are payment terminals, electricity meters and fleet management.
Up until now the price of a 4G M2M module was significantly higher than the price of a 2G or 3G M2M module but the introduction of LTE-M is set to change this according to KPN.
KPN said it expects LTE-M module availability to ramp during 2017 and that its mobile network will support LTE-M by the end of 2017 by which time it will offer M2M services over 2G, 3G, 4G, LoRa and LTE-M.