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Sierra Wireless modules for M1 and NB1 support 3GPP

Steve Rogerson
October 27, 2016
Sierra Wireless has introduced AirPrime cellular modules for categories M1 and NB1 LTE networks. They support the 3GPP standard for low-power wide-area (LPWA) technologies, which was designed to enable IoT services.
For businesses developing IoT applications for markets such as energy, transportation and smart cities, the Canadian company’s LPWA products aim to: simplify wireless integration and system development with cloud-connected modules; lower the cost and power consumption of devices; and enable reliable and resilient connectivity links for locations with coverage problems, such as deep indoors and in rural areas.
“Having shipped more than 120 million cellular modules, no one understands the challenges that businesses face in deploying IoT services better than Sierra Wireless,” said Dan Schieler, senior vice president. “LPWA technologies eliminate many of those challenges because they allow cellular to address a broader range of use cases, making it cost effective to connect billions more devices. Our essential and smart application processing LPWA module options make it easy for existing customers to expand their deployments and for new customers to begin designing connected IoT products in applications where cellular previously wasn’t a fit.”
The company has been working with the 3GPP standards organisation since 2010 to develop a cellular standard for IoT. With the commercialisation of Cat-M1 and Cat-NB1 LPWA technologies, cellular is now a better option for many IoT applications that were previously restricted to short-range technologies due to cost and battery life.
LPWA technologies are expected to connect more objects in cities, homes, hospitals and stores, and on roads and remote infrastructure, enabling a more connected world.
“LPWA will greatly expand cellular’s IoT market because it was specifically designed to meet the cost, power and coverage requirements for not only traditional markets but also new, untapped markets for IoT applications,” said Dan Shey, managing director at ABI Research. “As the market share leader in cellular modules, Sierra Wireless is well positioned to help their customers execute on the new business models and opportunities that LPWA will bring.”
The HL and WP modules are said to be the smallest embedded modules (22 by 23mm) to be completely interchangeable across 2G, 3G, 4G and LPWA technologies. They use the CF3 form factor, which is footprint compatible across product lines, providing the option to develop smarter by building connected IoT products or services on a single module.
“The GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative quickly aligned the mobile industry behind common and complementary LPWA technologies in licensed spectrum that were published by 3GPP,” said Graham Trickey, head of connected living at the GSMA. “We are very pleased to see the commercialisation of mobile IoT technologies taking place. Bringing cellular standards to LPWA is key to expanding its footprint in the developing IoT.”
The modules are compliant with the 3GPP Release 13 standard. The HL for the LTE Cat-M1 air interface is in carrier trials now and sampling with lead customers. The HL for the LTE Cat-NB1 air interface is in development now and will be trialling with carriers soon. The WP series will be available in 2018.