Complementary, Not Competitive: Bringing Cat. M and NB-IoT Together for Optimum Cellular LPWA Utility

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By Jamie Moss | 2Q 2018 | IN-5102


Two Techs Are Better Than One


Cat. M and NB-IoT are stronger together. Each technology may be needed to properly enable the other. Cat M. can provide Firmware Over-The-Air updates (FOTA) for NB-IoT-based devices, while NB-IoT can act as an event-based trigger to turn on Cat. M. The former ensures business critical functionality. The latter ensures Cat. M is only active when necessary, improving battery consumption and the useful lifespan of a device. Carriers may, therefore, need to roll out both in order to effectively offer services based on either, regardless of the technology "camps" that carriers initially seemed to have divided themselves into.

Additionally, as the NB-IoT specification has been revised and matures, the functional differences between Cat. M and NB-IoT have become clearer. In addition to providing complementary and non-mutually exclusive features, device manufacturers have now decided that Cat. M is the best cellular Low-Power, Wide-Area (LPWA) technology for mobile endpoints and that NB-IoT is best used for stationary IoT devices, throughput requirements and power …

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