Cellular IoT Design

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ٌWhat is Cellular IoT Design?

The Internet of Things (IoT)  requires secure communication and connectivity to design networks and enable data sharing. Due to different productivity, applications, and needs, different connectivity technologies allow operators, developers, and users to choose the options they need. It is important to understand the different characteristics of the main connectivity technology options.

IoT cellular technologies generally support higher data rates, shorter battery life, and require more expensive hardware (although this cost is declining rapidly). Cellular IoT-based IoT solutions are typically provided by large operators with access to the required frequency spectrum and required hardware design.

Types of cellular IoT

IoT can connect via 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G. But the connectivity depends on the application and type of IoT device. Moreover, cellular IoT mainly has two types of connections: LTE-M and NB-IoT. Now the concept of 2G and 3G is rear for mobile connectivity, but these cellular IoT networks are still useful for smart devices in some countries.

● 2G, 3G, and 4G

These technologies were initially designed only for mobile phones but are also used for IoT applications. 4G and 5G are also launched, but IoT is supported by 2G and 3G connections in some markets. 

2G or second-generation networks have been around for three decades. 2G helped people send picture messages, text messages, and multimedia messages. In cellular IoT, these networks have worked for logistics and supply management applications. They use very low power, but still, it helps devices transmit status updates and basic alerts. 

3G cellular networks enable mobile devices to connect directly to the internet. The biggest downside of 3G is it consumes more power than 2G. It has almost similar applications to 2G, but it facilitates some advanced applications like file sharing, remote device management, and analytics. 

4G LTE is the world’s leading mobile network technology. It’s 10 times faster than 3G. This technology enables devices to utilize video conferencing, make low bandwidth voice calls, and facilitate CCTV. This technology allows devices to download and upload data at faster speeds. It has various applications such as healthcare and entertainment systems.

● LTE Advanced

Working on LTE-Advanced was started after the launch of the first LTE technology. LTE failed to meet the International Telecommunication Union requirements for 4G. The LTE advanced project started in 2011 and gained ITU approval in 2012. 

It’s the advanced and faster version of LTE technology. LTE Advanced offers higher throughput than LTE. LTE networks can deliver a maximum of 300 MB of data per second, but LTE-Advanced can deliver up to 1 GB per second. 

Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) technology can help deliver data faster than one signal. But the issue is that this technology requires multiple antennas to receive signals. Therefore, its use is limited to smartphones and tablets. In self-driving vehicles, you need quick responses, and LTE advanced can help.

● LTE Cat O

It’s a low-power solution for IoT, and it is inexpensive. But it supports both voice and SMS. Voice and SMS both play their role within IoT. Moreover, they can help in making voice interactions with machines. 

LTE Cat O supports Power Saver Mode. This technology enables devices to sleep for hours or weeks. Once the timer is up, it quickly gets connected to a network. When the work is done, it goes back to sleeping mode. 

Cat O solutions only have one antenna. Moreover, they support half-duplex FDD. It means the data is transmitted or received at different frequencies.


It stands for Long Term Evaluation for Machines. It’s the second generation of LTE Cat O. It also offers advanced forms of connectivity. It also provides data and voice support. It doesn’t consume much power, which makes it ideal for devices with short battery times. 

Mission-critical applications require high data bandwidth and mainly depend on real-time data transfer, so LTE-M connections are best suited for these cases. Some examples of LTE-M are connected medical equipment and self-driving cars. But the major problem is that LTE-M technology is more expensive than other cellular IoT technologies.


NB stands for Narrow Band. When there is low power connectivity and low data IoT usage, this cellular IoT option is the best. It’s ideal for devices that have low data transmission requirements. It’s not only compatible with 4G but also has some other benefits, such as low power consumption, reliable connectivity, and long range. 

NB-IoT is the fastest-growing technology worldwide. You can use this IoT technology for applications that transfer only limited data and don’t require high bandwidth. It is used in connected energy meters in smart cities and smart soil sensors in agriculture. Moreover, you can use it in environmental sensors to measure weather conditions and wind pressure. 

For most IoT applications, NB-IoT takes precedence over LTE cat. The higher data rates used by LTE cat may be unnecessary and costly. Nevertheless, the LTE cat supports mobility, which means that it is more suitable for large networks with dynamic nodes. These networks include transportation and traffic guidance and control scenarios. LTE cat technology also enables voice data transmission, which is an important advantage for applications that require instant and fast response.

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