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U-Blox module combines Cat M1, NB-IoT and quad-band 2G

Steve Rogerson
January 25, 2018



Swiss module company U-Blox has announced an LTE Cat M1, NB-IoT and quad band 2G (EGPRS) module with worldwide coverage. The Sara-R412M measures 16 by 26mm, and is claimed to be the world's smallest to provide both LTE and quad band EGPRS support in a single design.
 
The flexibility extends further with dynamic system selection as Cat M1, NB-IoT and EGPRS in single mode or as a preferred connection that does not require a module reboot to switch between modes.
 
The feature suite is optimised for LPWA IoT applications that require the assurance of 2G connectivity to guarantee broad geographic coverage, even in areas where LTE Cat M1 and NB-IoT are not widely available. New IoT devices deployed in the field today can activate on existing 2G networks and still leverage the benefits of LTE Cat M1 and NB-IoT technology once it becomes available.
 
The Sara-R4 series covers a host of IoT applications, especially those reliant on long-term, low power use or requiring connectivity deep within buildings. Examples include gas, water and electricity metering, city street lighting, building automation, HVAC, industrial monitoring and control, telematics, insurance, asset and vehicle tracking, security systems, alarm panels, outpatient monitoring, and many consumer wearables.
 
"The U-Blox Sara-R412M provides customers that require 2G fallback a solution that preserves both the 16 by 26mm form factor and the precise pin assignment used for the LTE Cat M1 and NB1 Sara-R4 products,'' said Patty Felts, principal product manager at U-Blox. "Not only does this enable customers to easily sunset or migrate from other U-Blox 2G, 3G and 4G modules, it also strengthens U-Blox's leadership position of offering among the world's smallest global hardware designs."
 
The Sara-R412M enables global deployment based on a single hardware version, allowing developers to select their own desired frequencies and operator configurations. It ensures data integrity between applications via secure communications protocols, notably including two-way authentication between client and server, a strategy often used with cloud services.
 
Critical firmware updates can be delivered with the firm’s proprietary Ufota (firmware over the air) client-server service that uses LWM2M, a light and compact protocol for IoT applications. This allows end-users to continue using the same hardware when features and functionalities are updated, making it suited to critical applications running on devices that may be deployed in the field over long periods of time.
 
The module provides an extended temperature range of -40 to +85°C, and supports power save mode and extended discontinuous reception for LTE Cat M1 and NB-IoT connectivity, which can extend battery lifetime for up to ten years.
 
The 3GPP coverage enhancement allows the module's Cat M1 connectivity to reach deeper into buildings and basements, and even underground with NB-IoT when compared with other air interface technologies such as GSM or Cat 1.
 
The module will be available later this year.