What is Cat-M1?

Cat-M1 is a low-power, wide-area (LPWA) cellular technology that is specifically designed for IoT devices. It provides a more cost-effective and energy-efficient alternative to traditional cellular connectivity options, making it an attractive solution for IoT applications.

On average, Cat-M1 runs on a 1.4 MHZ spectrum with a transmit power of 20Bm, offering upload speeds between 200 kbps and 400 kbps on average.

Key Takeaway: Like most LPWAN networks, Cat-M1 functions at its best when transferring low to medium amounts of data at a long range.

How does Cat-M1 work?

Cat-M1 operates on a dedicated frequency band, transmitting data over longer distances while consuming less power. It uses a signaling protocol called LTE-M, which enables it to connect with the LTE network and provides better security than other LPWA technologies.

Cat-M1 supports two-way communication, allowing devices to receive firmware updates and other commands from the network.

Having to regularly swap the batteries on the hundreds of IoT-connected sensors that might be spread across a vineyard or a mining site can be a tedious task. Cat-M1’s low power requirements on the device side can help to make this far less frequent.

Cat-M1 also allows low-power wide-area technologies to be used within a licensed spectrum, which provides enhanced security and privacy. This can be particularly useful when the data being transferred is particularly sensitive, such as in military operations or crime enforcement processes.

Get Cat-M1 Coverage For Your IoT ProjectSoracom provides secure, reliable Cat-M1 coverage for all IoT use cases.

Cat-M1 IoT Use Cases

Cat-M1 is an excellent option for IoT applications with low to medium data and usage and benefits from reduced battery and power consumption.

For example, agricultural IoT projects covering a wide geographic region, relying on connected sensors that infrequently send small to medium data loads, could use Cat-M1 to bring additional efficiency to their operation.

Another example is healthcare, where Cat-M1 can be used to monitor patient health remotely and transmit data to healthcare providers.

Due to its specialised ability to transfer low amounts of data over long distances, Cat-M1 is a popular option for other IoT use cases, including:

  • Monitoring energy consumption and optimizing building management in smart cities
  • Tracking inventory and monitoring the condition of goods in logistics
  • Enabling predictive maintenance of machinery in manufacturing
  • Providing real-time data on traffic and weather conditions for transportation
  • Tracking wildlife behavior and habitat conditions in conservation efforts
  • Monitoring and optimizing power usage in smart homes
  • Providing real-time updates on parking availability and traffic flow in smart parking systems
  • Tracking and monitoring the location and health of livestock in agriculture.
  • Remote monitoring of patient health in healthcare

Cat-M1 vs. Other IoT Connectivity Options

Compared to other LPWA technologies like NB-IoT and LTE-M, Cat-M1 offers higher data rates and better voice capabilities. It also supports more simultaneous connections and provides better security features.

Cat-M1 vs NB-IoT

When it comes to LPWA technologies, Cat-M1 and NB-IoT are two of the most popular options. While both are designed for IoT devices and offer low-power, cost-effective connectivity solutions, there are some notable differences between them.

One key difference is that Cat-M1 offers higher data rates and supports voice over LTE (VoLTE) capabilities, whereas NB-IoT is designed primarily for data transfer and does not support voice services. Additionally, Cat-M1 can support more simultaneous connections and provides better security features than NB-IoT.

However, NB-IoT has the advantage of being more energy-efficient than Cat-M1, making it a better option for devices that require long battery life.

Cat-M1 vs Cat1

One of the main differences is that Cat-M1 is explicitly designed for low-power IoT devices, while Cat1 is optimized for higher-bandwidth applications that require faster data transfer speeds.

Cat-M1 offers a lower data rate than Cat1, but it consumes significantly less power and provides longer battery life for connected devices. Additionally, Cat-M1 supports more simultaneous connections than Cat1 and provides better coverage in hard-to-reach areas.

On the other hand, Cat1 offers higher data rates and is more suitable for applications that require high-speed data transfer, such as video streaming or real-time monitoring.

Total bandwidth required 20MHz 1.4MHz
Download peak rate10MHz 1 Mbps or 375 Mbps
Upload peak rate5Mbps 1 Mbps or 375 Mbps
Power demandLow Very low
Duplex modeFull duplex Full duplex or half duplex

How Much Does Cat-M1 Cost?

Cat-M1 pricing is very competitive compared to other providers in the market. This is because, unlike LoRaWAN, Cat-M1 connectivity uses LTE, saving the cost of buying new antennas and other equipment to build the IoT system.

In addition, Cat-M1’s low power consumption decreases maintenance costs drastically compared to other connectivity options like 3G and satellite.

Get Cat-M1 Coverage For Your IoT ProjectSoracom provides secure, reliable Cat-M1 coverage for all IoT use cases.

Getting started with Cat-M1

Are you looking for Cat-M1 coverage for your IoT devices and sensors? Soracom provides secure, reliable, and affordable IoT coverage over Cat-M1 in the UK, Europe, and beyond.

Speak to our team of IoT experts to discuss your project in more detail and learn about deploying on the UK’s most powerful IoT connectivity platform for M2M devices.

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