SK Telecom rolls out LTE Cat-M1, links it to LoRa network

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SK Telecom announced that it has successfully completed the deployment of LTE Cat-M1 technology for IoT applications.

LTE Cat-M1 is one of the IoT-related standards published in March 2016 by 3GPP. It is an upgraded version of the existing LTE-M standard, and is designed to deliver high volume data generated from IoT devices at data rates up to 1 Mbps. The newest version is expected to help SK Telecom support a variety of IoT applications which require the transmission of mid- and high-volume data, such as voice and photos.

SK Telecom currently delivers lower-power, lower-volume data transmission on LoRa networks, while dedicating LTE-M network to high-volume data transmission for its IoT services.

Earlier this year, SK Telecom completed an LTE Cat-M1 trial on its test network at the Network IT Convergence R&D Center located in Bundang. In August, the operator began deploying 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. The affordability of the technology would also lead to less burden on IoT device owners, contributing to the expansion of the market for IoT applications, SK Telecom said.

SK Telecom says it also successfully linked the LTE Cat-M1 network with its commercial LoRa networks, which it says will help in identifying data generated from IoT devices and control them at a single server to allocate traffic to each network based on volume.

For instance, in a security and fire alarm monitoring system, low-volume data generated from sensors to detect intrusion, flame and temperature will be collected via LoRa, while high-volume data such as photos that capture scenes, as well as data for alarming and controlling devices, will be delivered on the LTE Cat-M1 network.

Park Jin-hyo, senior vice president and head of SK Telecom’s Network Technology R&D Center, said the deployment of LTE Cat-M1 has enabled the cellco to “build stronger capabilities to optimize networks in accordance with the type of IoT services, helping to create a competitive edge in delivering the hybrid network for IoT applications.”

Comparison of IoT network technology

Category LTE Cat.M1 LTE-M LoRa NB-IoT
Frequency   Variable up to 1.08

MHz of LTE  bandwidth

  Variable up to 20 MHz

of LTE bandwidth

  Unlicensed spectrum

8 channels of 125 kHz

  Fixed to 180 kHz of

LTE bandwidth

Speed*   Up to 1Mbps   Up to 10Mbps   Up to 5.4kbps   Up to 250kbps
Applications   Data, voice and photos   Data, voice and video   Small data like sensors


  Small data like sensors


Battery Life   Years   Months   Years   Years


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