LTE Cat-M1 IoT module connects directly to global cellular networks




Renesas Electronics has launched its first cellular IoT module, which supports the LTE Cat-M1 specification to allow devices to directly connect to the internet without the need for a gateway by relying on the existing communication infrastructure owned by mobile network operators.

Renesas RYZ014A_Module

The new Renesas RYZ014A module is based on Sequans Communications’ Monarch LTE CAT-M1 hardware and software technology, and will be offered to customers through a web-based portal managed by ONE Tech to provide access for reading sensor values and managing SIM card plans remotely, reducing operating cost.

The argument for cellular IoT is that the ability to enable worldwide deployment with roaming capability makes it economical to connect each device, which is especially beneficial when installing larger networks that require a low cost per unit. The pre-tested, pre-certified RYZ014A is an all-in-one, single-mode LTE category M1 module comprising an LTE Cat-M1 platform and all other elements necessary for a complete LTE Cat-M1 modem system. These include an LTE-optimized transceiver, a single complete RF front-end to support LTE Cat-M1 bands worldwide, and key interfaces, all in a single compact LGA package. The RYZ014A module also includes a carrier-proven LTE Cat-M1 protocol stack and comprehensive software.

Renesas ryz014a-block-diagram
The RYZ014A module block diagram.

This module includes RF regulatory certification, PTCRB/GCF certification and carrier certification for the customer’s network operator of choice. The module is built on proven technology both from a hardware and software perspective and is delivered fully tested and calibrated. It has been certified with all major radio frequency regulations in the world as well as with leading network operators in North America, APAC and Europe. Cellular IoT is one of the pillars of Renesas’ connectivity strategy that also includes Bluetooth Low Energy, ultra-wide band (UWB) and Wi-SUN among others.

“Building wireless IoT networks around the world can be costly and time consuming,” said Roger Wendelken, senior vice president in Renesas’ IoT and infrastructure business unit. “We have received enthusiastic responses on this solution from customers in metering, smart home, infrastructure and industrial markets, where they can seamlessly interface Renesas MCU-based applications to the internet through their cellular network of choice.”

Renesas has teamed up with Sequans Communications, a developer and provider of 5G and 4G chips and modules for IoT, on the RYZ014A modules. Sequans offers the Monarch LTE CAT-M1 hardware and software technology used in the module, and has extensive experience implementing wireless IoT worldwide. “This product is a great example of the benefits customers enjoy from the combination of our two technologies,” said Georges Karam, Sequans CEO. ”Sequans’ Monarch technology is an outstanding complement to the unmatched MCU expertise that Renesas provides.”

Renesas offers customers a web-based portal, managed by ONE Tech, that provides easy access to read sensor values and manage SIM card plans remotely, reducing operating cost. “ONE Tech is excited to bring our embedded AI and cloud technology to market in conjunction with the Renesas CAT-M1 module to power a global intelligent device to cloud architecture,” said Yasser Khan, CEO of ONE Tech. “By offering embedded intelligence within the device, along with our enterprise-grade platform, customers of the CAT-M1 module will be able to easily build, manage and scale to hundreds and thousands of next generation smart machines in a cost-effective end-to-end ecosystem.”

Cat M1 is suited to low power

Category M1 (Cat M1) functions on a 1.4 MHz (reduced from 20 MHz) spectrum, has a transmit power up to 23dBm, and provides average upload speeds between 200 kpbs and 400 kpbs. This enables an extended battery life, potentially by up to 10 years. Advantages that Cat M1 brings to IoT solutions include coverage, security, variety, and efficiency. Renesas said the fact that Verizon will launch it with an open environment will ensure ubiquity, the factor that makes trends become real. “Now, more makers and developers will be able to launch IoT projects,” said Jay Johnson, a senior manager for product marketing at Renesas.

In a Renesas blog, Johnson said, “Cat M1 allows low-power, wide-area technologies to work with a licensed spectrum, which provides a secure and private network, possibly the number one concern for businesses considering IoT initiatives. It works specifically with IoT applications with low to medium data usage and devices with long battery lifetimes.”

He added that Cat M1 will enable applications across different industries and areas such as smart homes, industrial monitoring, asset tracking, healthcare, retail, smart cities, and wearables. “Cat M1 is important because it extends LTE’s market reach. By allowing LTE to cost-effectively support lower data-rate applications, Cat M1 is being touted as a good fit for low-power sensing and monitoring devices such as health and fitness wearables, utility meters, and vending machines, among many others.”

Johnson explains that since the communication interface of IoT devices is mostly dormant, the power consumption while sleeping is important. In LTE Cat-M1 there is the concept of extended discontinuous reception, or eDRX, which defines the time a device can sleep before checking the network for any messages. This is the so-called paging window. For LTE Cat-M1 the eDRX can range from 320 ms up to roughly 43 minutes.

While sleeping, the device is in power-saving mode (PSM). In this case, the benefit of the RYZ014A is that it only consumes 1µA in PSM. The figure below shows an example of average power consumption compared to a competitive device depending on the eDRX cycle.

Renesas power-consumption-comparison-figure-2 RYZ014A
An example of average power consumption of the RYZ014A module compared to a competitive device depending on the eDRX cycle. (Source: Renesas)

Implementing quick solutions

Renesas has combined the RYZ014A modules with numerous components from its extensive portfolio, including power ICs, Li-ion battery charger, light-to-digital sensor, and multiple RA family MCUs to create certified solutions that enable customers to quickly implement complete remote industrial process monitoring and automatic plant watering systems with an LTE connection. Renesas offers over 200 solutions, which it calls “winning combos”, that include compatible devices that work together seamlessly for a wide range of applications and end products.

Key features of the RYZ014A module include support for world-wide frequency bands in a single design, removing the need to create multiple customer platforms for different global regions; high output power supporting both power class options 20 and 23dBm; and ultra-low current consumption in power saving mode of only 1µA.

The RYZ014A module is available today, along with the RYZ014A-EVK evaluation kits.

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Original article: LTE Cat-M1 IoT module connects directly to global cellular networks
Author: Nitin Dahad