Pin compatible LTE Cat 1 modules simplify IoT designs

New Products |
By Nick Flaherty

u-blox in Switzerland has launched two pin-compatible modules for global connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT) using 4G LTE networks with and without GNSS global positioning. The modules are aimed at IoT operators concerned about the switching off of 2G and 3G networks who need to simplify their supply chain.

u-blox claims the LARA-R6 is the smallest LTE Cat-1 module on the market, measuring 24 x 26 x 2.6mm thick with a 40 pin LGA outline. This has a low cost variant purely for operation in North America, as well as a global variant that covers all 18 LTE frequency bands with fallback to 3G and 2G. It also has dual channel transmit and receive to support the requirements of network operators and voice over LTE (VoLTE).

The security-focused module provides a root of trust, secure boot, and secure communication with regular security updates making it suitable as a cellular modem for telematics, tracking, and health applications, as well as for alarm panels, smart meters, and point-of-sale devices.

u-blox has a deal with Qualcomm for LTE modem chips.

The LENA-R8 is slightly larger at 27 x 30mm but includes the option of a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver based on the u-blox M10 platform. The module has the same pinout as the LARA-R6 but a single channel receiver for deployments in the EMEA, APAC, and South America regions with lower cost, altough u-blox would not ocmment on the price differential between the modules and the variants. The LENA-R8 supports a broad range of frequency bands with just 2G fallback and having a GNSS variant supports concurrently receive of up to four GNSS constellations in the same footprint reduces integration effort and time to market.

Together, the modules provide five certified global, multi-regional, and regional product variants. They include MQTT Anywhere and MQTT Flex connectivity via u-blox’s Thingstream platform out of the box, thereby enabling low-power, low-cost connectivity with globally ubiquitous, seamless roaming. All variants of the LARA-R6 and LENA-R8 family support CellLocate, u-blox’s cellular network-based location service, for coarse positioning data even in the absence of GNSS signals.  

“LARA-R6 and LENA-R8 are important additions to our LTE Cat 1 portfolio, meeting growing demand for small IoT solutions targeting global markets, with seamless roaming and low data costs. Both modules offer global roaming with a single SKU, which greatly simplifies logistics and supply chain management. The small size of both modules gives product developers greater design flexibility and the possibility to create smaller form factors,” said Drazen Drinic, Product Management Cellular at u-blox.  

Engineering samples will be available in February.

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