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March 31, 2021 What is LTE Cat 1 and Cat 1 bis?

  With the inevitable retirement of 2G and 3G, an increasing number of innovative IoT companies are seeking new forms of network connectivity that can replace the roles of 2G & 3G while providing excellent network performance, great reliability, secure coverage, and ideal cost performance. LTE Cat 1, a communication technology that can address the all above requirements, offers the best matching solution for medium-rare applications.

  LTE Cat 1, sometimes also refers as 4G Cat 1, is specifically designed for more feature-rich Machine-to-Machine (M2M) IoT applications. The technology was initially introduced in 3GPP Release 8 in 2009 and has become standardized LTE IoT communication technology since then. With maximum speeds of 10 Mb/s downlink and 5 Mb/s uplinks, LTE Cat 1 is believed the ideal solution for scenarios that are not dependent on high-speed data transmission but still require the reliability of the 4G network. LTE Cat 1, which also supports voice and mobile IoT applications, also offers a good migration path for 2G and 3G applications, such as asset tracking, smart meters, and other remote sensors. This has pushed the IoT companies to return their attention to the already-available LTE Cat 1 technology. This can well explain why in the era of 4G, LTE Cat 1 has maintained quiet in the market for quite a long time, but only re-gains technology companies’ attention until recent years.

  In nowadays, when people talk about LTE Cat 1, it is no longer the same meaning as which defined in 3GPP’S Release 8, the term also refers to the newer LTE Cat 1 bis standard that introduced in the later Release 13. The LTE Cat 1 bis is a wireless communication standard that allows IoT devices to adopt single antenna designs while reserving the same level of network capability.

  The older LTE Cat 1 standard, like other higher-speed cellular technology, requires 2Rx antennas to support data transmission, making it difficult to be fit into space constraint applications. Before the emergence of LTE Cat 1 bis, the only technologies that support single-antennas designs are Cat 0/Cat M1/Cat NB1, but even with their maximum throughput rate, they are not capable of satisfying the speed requirement of real-time data acquisition devices. Additionally, using single antenna design will also help manufacturers save product costs.

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