NB-IoT and CAT-M1 Cell Modems Keeping IoT Innovations Connected

The market for wireless IoT innovations is exploding, with an estimated CAGR of 20% by 2028. The skyrocketing demand for IoT products isn’t exactly news — businesses know there is an opportunity to be seized and are mobilising to capture and profit from it. But the “what” is the easy part. (Developing a successful IoT product.) It’s in the “how” that things get more complicated. Specifically, how to keep cellular IoT innovations connected across long distances and challenging conditions. This is the question every company seeking to launch a successful product must grapple with, and one that requires access to expertise across a wide range of cellular product solutions.

At Pivot UK, we are a global leader in product design, development, manufacturing, and supply chain that help companies capture value from the booming market for cellularly connected products. With more than fifty years of experience across fourteen industries, 320,000 square feet of manufacturing capability, and a diverse suite of cellular and wireless technologies, we are the go-to partner for launching competitive, cost-effective, and scalable IoT innovations.

A One-Two Punch

IoT products come in all shapes and sizes and in distinct classes that require the right combination of product solutions. To ensure a perfect fit, a one-two punch is needed. First, a robust use case must be established and rigorously assessed across connectivity, communication protocols, security, identity, and machine learning. Second, an experienced partner with extensive experience in complex use cases and a diverse product-solution portfolio must be brought on board. At Pivot UK, our in-house DFM (Design for Manufacturing) teams deliver world-class use-case expertise and advanced know-how using the latest cellular technologies, including LTE, Cat M, NB-IoT, and 5G.

The Triple Threat of Connectivity Challenges

Three main challenges must be tackled to successfully match cellular product solutions with use case. These challenges include:

We have developed dozens of cellular IoT innovations across medical, industrial, and consumer markets. For many of these products, the optimal solution for all three connectivity challenges is Cat M and NB-IoT cellular modems. (Keep in mind that other product solutions may be perfectly viable for your use case but not necessarily optimal. This is why it’s important to work with a partner with a wide range of options to ensure you’re getting the ideal solution for your innovation.)

What makes these technologies an ideal fit for solving the triple threat of connectivity challenges? Let’s look at each to see why they’re so perfectly suited to most IoT innovations.

NB-IoT vs Cat-M1 Cell Modems

What NB-IoT and Cat-M1 have in common are 3GPP standardised technologies. Despite this area of overlap, they are complementary solutions with different strengths. You’ve heard the term broadband, and NB-IoT is its opposite. The NB stands for narrow-band, making it a better fit for simple products that don’t require connection capability across a large (broad) area. On the other side of the range-challenge equation, Cat-M1’s 1.4 MHz bandwidth makes it better suited to high-complexity, high-investment products.

The latest enhancements of NB-IoT and CAT-MI include the following features and functionalities:

  • Multicast transmission
  • TDD support and increased UE differentiation and access control
  • Reduced latency and UE power consumption
  • Reduced system information acquisition and cell search time
  • Improved coverage, capacity, and EU measurement
  • Higher peak data rates to serve a broader range of applications
  • Lower power class that enables smaller battery form factors
  • Extended support of cell ranges of up to 100km

IoT Applications Effectively Supported by NB-IoT and CAT-M1

NB-IoT and Cat-M1 have an amazing breadth of applications across multiple product categories. These applications include smart metres, e-health wearables, low-cost sensors, and logistical trackers, to name a few. NB-IoT and Cat-M1 are the product solutions of choice for many of our products and deliver the following benefits:

  • Low device and deployment cost
  • Small form factor
  • Long battery life
  • Wireless connectivity for challenging conditions
  • High application and communication security

Wireless and cellular medtech applications are shaping the future of healthcare. One of the cellular products we have developed is a patient prescription-adherence device that is helping to monitor and track medication usage. It continuously monitors prescription drug use to ensure patients are taking the prescribed amount of medication. Pivot took over design control of this device and, among other improvements and fixes, updated the cell modem and antenna designs to support next-generation technology for improved data connectivity and longer battery life. We also transferred production control, significantly improving manufacturing efficiencies, yields, and DHR compliance.

Looking to Launch a Successful IoT Innovation?

At Pivot UK, we are international leaders in advanced cellular solutions that fuel our partner’s success in an increasingly crowded market. Our integrative, end-to-end product development expertise and company-owned facilities provide a seamless process and total transparency into project status. If you’d like to learn more about how our collaborative approach to NPD can help take your IoT innovation from concept through successful launch, contact us today.

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