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LTE CAT1 & CATM - A Simple Explanation

Long Term Evolution Category 1 or LTE CAT 1 is a well-known LTE standard, active globally for IoT (Internet of Things) communication. Launched in 2008 by 3GPP (Release 8) for IoT and has been growing significantly since. LTE Cat 1 gained popularity due to its widespread coverage and cost advantage. LTE Cat 1 was explicitly designed for feature-rich IoT applications and is now considered an indispensable connectivity technology. LTE CAT 1 uses dynamic systems which are technically superior and are globally deployable—providing optimal IoT solutions worldwide. In other words, LTE CAT 1 can be termed as IoT specific variant of LTE that makes IoT networks much smarter.

Evolution in Cellular Technology
Figure 1 Evolution in Cellular Technology

Features of LTE CAT 1:

· It's a medium speed LTE standard.

· Designed specifically for IoT and M2M communications.

· Offers sufficient data speeds.

· Suitable for Bandwidth intensive IoT applications.

· Greater, unmatched in-building penetration.

· Low latency (50 to 100ms).

· Greater data efficiency.

· Uplink (5Mbps) and Downlink (10Mbps).

· Downward compatible with 3G and 2G.

· Provides optimized long battery life cycles (up to 5 years).

· Offers extended idle and sleep modes.

· Supports Full-duplex FDD/TDD and VoLTE (Voice on LTE).

· Indoor coverage.

· Voice ready.

· Mobility support.

· Remote control devices.

· Lowest cost.

· Less complex.

Applications of LTE CAT 1:

LTE CAT 1 finds application in multiple areas.

Automation/Transportation: helps monitor vehicles and various parameters, diagnostics information, milage, location, engine usage, fleet management, e-scooters etc.

Security: video surveillance, traffic cameras, transmitting high-quality videos, home monitor surveillance, low end/cloud-based cameras, supporting voice over LTE.

Mobile medical alert systems, out-patient monitoring, predictive maintenance. Suitable for ATMs, wending machines, smart grids, asset tracking, electrical meters, wireless payments, smart wearables. Push to talk over cellular.


Known by many names, Long Term Evolution Category Machine/enhanced Machine Type Communication, Low-cost machine type communication or simply LTEM protocol was launched in 2017 by 3GPP (Release 13, here "M" stands for the machine). This technology is relatively new and is under development phase, and specifically designed for machine-to-machine communication and IoT. And for so, it is locally available. Specifically designed for mobility support for higher throughput devices, it offers:

· Low latency (10-15µsec).

· Uplink and Downlink of 1Mbps.

· Supports VoLTE.

· Battery life up to 10 years.

It is also used for IoT devices.

Both the technologies have proven to be best for IoT and M2M communication. Depending upon the usage and coverage availability, one can decide which one to use. Also, when calculated for various other parameters, both the technologies had significant values, as shown in data collected by

 General Data for CAT 1 and CAT M
Figure 2 General Data for CAT 1 and CAT M

General comparison between LTE CAT 1 and CAT M

General comparison between LTE CAT 1 and CAT M

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