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LTE CAT-1 or LTE-M or NB-IoT

Which one is right for your cellular IoT deployment?

There are three LTE-based standards of cellular communication specifically intended for use in the Internet of Things (IoT). There’s LTE CAT-1, which was introduced in 2009, and there’s LTE-M and NB-IoT, which were introduced in 2016 as part of the cellular Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) specification.

CAT-1 and cellular LPWA both offer the benefits of 3GPP standardization and are viable long-term options for the IoT, but they vary in what one refers to as the "4 C’s": coverage (and bandwidth), current (power consumption), cost (design complexity), and capacity (massive IoT deployments per cell).

These variations can make it hard to know which one is best for a given deployment. To help simplify selection, we highlight the key considerations CAT-1 and cellular LPWA and identify the use cases best suited to each.

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