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Powertec Blog

NB-IoT and Cat-M1: Applications for IoT

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Known in the industry as NB-IoT and Cat-M1, these technologies leverage the existing 4G mobile network infrastructure to connect low power devices in mass volume, which transmit small quantities of data.

4G cellular data has great potential for IoT projects to enable remote data transmission of sensor data. Both NB-IoT and Cat-M1 work collaboratively to transmit data, such as temperature sensor readings or remote notifications of equipment alarms.

This type of connectivity operates anywhere with access to 4G coverage, making it best suited to both urban and rural IoT projects. NB-IoT requires specific network access from carriers and needs to meet strict data transmission guidelines in order to be approved.


Remote Equipment Access and Alarm Monitoring

The Robustel M1200 is a smart industrial IoT gateway designed specifically to operate on both the NB-IoT and CAT-M1 network. This compact gateway operates cohesively with remotely located equipment and alarm monitoring devices. The Robustel M1200 has the capacity to transmit data, from multiple monitoring devices, over both NB-IoT and CAT-M1 networks and deliver these data packages to the “data centre” or dashboard.

NB-IoT and CAT-M1 Robustel M1200 Application Diagram example

It also has the capacity to send SMS notifications, allowing you to be alerted to a triggered alarm condition. Lastly, it supports bridge (modem only) mode, via serial or USB port allowing you to remotely access your device for configuration and diagnosis.


NB-IoT and CAT-M1 for Low Power Sensor Monitoring

If your IoT project requires remote monitoring of a device or sensor but lacks access to a localised power source, then using the NB-IoT or CAT-M1 networks for data transmission makes for a much more attractive option.

These networks have significantly lower transmission power, making them far more efficient for IoT applications with low to medium data usage. This, in turn, enables all connected devices to have longer battery life. NB-IoT and CAT-M1 networks typically have data upload speeds between 200kpbs and 400kpbs.

Other drawbacks of NB-IoT over CAT-M1 and 4G is that it will be difficult to implement firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) or file transfers. Network and tower handoffs will be a problem, so NB-IoT is best suited for primarily static assets, like meters and sensors in a fixed location, rather than roaming assets.

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