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SK Telecom links LTE Cat-M1 with LoRa

Steve Rogerson
November 16, 2017
South Korean operator SK Telecom has completed the deployment of LTE Cat-M1 technology for IoT applications and successfully linked the technology with its existing LoRa network.
LTE Cat-M1 is one of the standards published in March 2016 by 3GPP supporting data rates up to 1Mbit/s. It is an upgraded version of the existing LTE-M technology, designed to deliver high volume data generated from IoT devices. The newest version is expected to help a broad use of IoT applications that require the transmission of mid- and high-volume data, such as voice and images.
Earlier this year, SK Telecom completed a trial of the LTE Cat-M1 deployment on its test network at the Network IT Convergence R&D centre in Bundang, South Korea. Following the success of the trial, in August this year it began the nation’s first deployment of Cat-M1 at commercial LTE base stations for field tests in collaboration with Ericsson and Qualcomm.
LTE Cat-M1 is expected to lower manufacturing costs of IoT devices as its communications modules are much cost-effective than their counterparts for LTE-M, bringing more companies into an ecosystem for IoT business. The affordability of the technology would also lead to a reduced burden on IoT device owners, contributing to the expansion of the market for IoT applications.
SK Telecom delivers lower-power, lower-volume data transmission on LoRa networks, while dedicating LTE-M network to high-volume data transmission for its IoT services. The deployment of LTE Cat-M1 will help it to upgrade all its LTE-M network operations to a higher level.
The operator also successfully linked the LTE Cat-M1 network with its commercial LoRa networks. The link will help in identifying data generated from IoT devices and control them at a single server to allocate relatively high-volume data to the LTE Cat-M1 network and low-volume data to the LoRa network.
For instance, in a security and fire alarm monitoring system, data generated from sensors to detect intrusion, flame and temperature will be collected through the LoRa network, while photos that capture scenes as well as data for alarming and controlling devices will be delivered on the LTE Cat-M1 network.
“The deployment of LTE Cat-M1 is a significant achievement in the IoT ecosystem as it lays the foundation for operators to evolve our IoT networks,” said Park Jin-hyo, senior vice president at SK Telecom. “It has enabled us to build stronger capabilities to optimise networks in accordance with the type of IoT services, helping to create a competitive edge in delivering the hybrid network for IoT applications.”