LTE, 5G, NB-IoT, and Cat-M1 — Matching the Right Technology to Use Case

Technology use case

The global wireless connectivity market is expected to reach the U.S. $127.9 billion by 2027, with a CAGR growth rate of 12.5% in the forecast period from 2019 to 2027. Much of this growth can be attributed to the expansion of cellular technologies that pose unprecedented opportunities for new product development. Among them, LTE, Cat M, NB-IoT, and 5G are proving to be key players that are rewriting the rules of what is possible.

At Pivot International, these are among the chief cellular technologies we employ to help our clients design, develop, manufacture, and distribute award-winning IoT products. With nine locations worldwide, expertise across fourteen industries, and 320,00 square feet of manufacturing capability, we help our partners capitalize on emerging IoT trends and market opportunities.

LTE, 5G, NB-IoT, and Cat M are different technologies that come with various tradeoffs and advantages that must be carefully weighed and balanced. Matching the right cellular technology (or combination of technologies) to use-case is a specialty of Pivot’s that ensures our client’s success.

Technologies for High Complexity, High-Performance Products


LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a mobile communication standard LTE. Because it represents the fourth generation of mobile communication technology, it is also known as 4G. The LTE network serves as the foundation upon which 5G continues to expand.

LTE uses MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) antenna technology. LTE’s low latency enables the transmission of voice services (VoLTE: Voice over LTE) and video telephony via Internet Protocol and supports time-critical applications.


5G represents the latest generation of LTE and supports wide and ultra-wide area networks. 5G wireless technology is designed to deliver higher multi-Gbps increased data speeds, ultra-low latency, enhanced reliability, massive network capacity, and availability that translate to higher performance and efficiency.

5G is up to 100 times faster than 4G, reaching up to 10 gigabits per second. To give you a sense of the difference, if you were to use 4G to download a high-definition film, it would take an average of 50 minutes. Using 5G, it would take only nine.

Technologies for Massive IoT

Companies seeking to develop high-volume, low-complexity, connected products (known as Massive IoT) have two primary technologies to support connectivity: NB-IoT (narrowband IoT) and Cat-M1, both of which are 3GPP standardized technologies.

Massive IoT devices do not require constant network communication, ultra-low latency, or high performance. Low-cost sensors, meters, wearables, and trackers are common use cases for NB-IoT and Cat-M1 — all of which Pivot has extensive experience.

Both NB-IoT and Cat-M1 devices can sleep for extended periods with extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX) and Power Saving Mode (PSM) functionalities, significantly reducing device power consumption. Furthermore, both technologies support enhanced signal coverage per base station. NB-IoT is ideal for supporting very low data rate applications in extremely challenging radio conditions with extreme coverage capability.


Though these technologies are complementary, NB-IoT is better suited for ultra-low complexity products requiring only a very narrow bandwidth, 200 kHz. Its narrow bandwidth means data rate peaks around 250 kbs per second.


Cat-M1 operates at 1.4 MHz bandwidth, making it better suited for products that entail greater complexity and cost-investment. Cat-M1’s wider bandwidth allows it to produce higher data rates (up to 1 Mbps), lower latency, and more precise device positioning. Cat-M1 supports voice calls and connected mode mobility.

At Pivot, we continually invest in state-of-the-art cellular innovations to remain at the leading edge of technological evolution. This enables us to drive our clients’ success in an increasingly crowded and competitive market. The return on our technological investment is visible in our reputation as a leading one-source partner and our extensive portfolio of award-winning IoT innovations. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you make your product vision a winning reality, contact us today.

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