New to IOT - Question regarding LTE Cat-M1


#1

Hi everyone!

I’ve been tasked by management at my company with outfitting about 1,000 pieces of construction equipment with asset trackers. I have an IT background but am new to the IOT world and had a question.

I have done some tests with Hologram sims in 3G devices with great success and I’m ready to move on to the full deployment. However I am now switching to 4G/LTE Cat m1 devices.

My question is, when I swtich over to LTE Cat m1, are there any new settings I have to congfigure, or will the sims automatically hop on the LTE Cat m1 network? As in, can I just take my Hologram sims out of my current, 3G devices and pop them in the new LTE Cat m1 devices? I am based in California, United States, if that makes a difference. The devices will mostly be deployed all across the United States.

If it helps, these are the 3G trackers I’m currently using: http://www.iconcox.com/products/at3-ultra-long-standby-asset-gps-tracker.html

And these are the LTE Cat m1 trackers I’m switching to: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Waterproof-IP65-4G-LTE-Cat-M1-GPS-Tracker-TK319-L-for-Vehicle-GEO-fence-Alarm-Overspeed/32963802454.html?spm=2114.search0104.3.3.5e855da58SSvq6&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_4_10065_10130_10068_10890_10547_319_10546_317_10548_10545_10696_453_10084_454_10083_10618_10307_537_536_10902_10059_10884_10887_321_322_10103,searchweb201603_51,ppcSwitch_0&algo_expid=38c6ccc3-de49-4242-afe8-348c36c34eca-0&algo_pvid=38c6ccc3-de49-4242-afe8-348c36c34eca&transAbTest=ae803_3

Any clarification would be greatly appreciated!


#2

The simcards will work fine in your new devices without any changes related to Hologram or the simcards. You will have to configure the APN on the device and besides that any other configuration would depend on tracker’s themselves that I am unfamiliar with.


#3

Great, thanks. Exactly what I needed!


#4

Hi,

Just be sure to test a couple of the new trackers you’ll be using very thoroughly. LTE technology is pretty new in trackers and many devices are still buggy. The LTE bands used in the US are not used in Asia so it’s a bit harder for Chinese manufacturers to test their devices. Don’t believe anything until you have verified it.


#5

Will do. I’m planning on doing a batch of 5-10 and putting them on machines going to different types of jobsites.

Do you happen to know if a device build for LTE Cat m1 will work on standard LTE if Cat m1 is unavailable?


#6

No Cat-M1 modems will only work on Cat-M1 networks, they cannot connect to normal LTE. Cat-M1 is a simpler / reduced protocol. This is good as it allows cheaper and more power efficient devices to connect to the internet. Because of this they cannot connect to the more sophisticated / demanding normal LTE network otherwise they would be just as expensive and power hungry as normal LTE devices.

The good news is that Cat-M1 is basically just a software update for LTE cell towers so it is easy for networks to deploy and in the US atleast I believe every Verizion LTE tower has Cat-M1, likely AT&T as well (although I havent done as much research). So it is very likely if you have normal LTE on one of these networks, you also have Cat-M1


#7

Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate the help! Your post brings me to my last question:

My gps vendor has an option between an LTE version of the device and a Cat-M1/NB-IoT version. Assuming power consumption isn’t an issue, as the units will be hardwired to the construction equipment’s battery, is there any reason to choose one over the other? The data usage is only about 25kb per day/1mb per month per device on average.


#8

Since power isn’t a concern for you, I imagine the main advantage of LTE-M is the cheaper modem. The LTE-M asset tracker should be roughly ~$10 cheaper than the LTE version. If not, you may have room to negotiate with the supplier. Also, carrier pricing of M2M plans is cheaper (not applicable with Hologram though).

LTE-M also supports better coverage through Coverage Enhancement (CE) modes, but I’m not aware of carriers deploying CE mode B (yet?). NB-IoT does not support seamless cell handover so it’s not ideal for mobile units.

As @mbrenner said, make sure your asset tracker really supports the AT&T/Verizon LTE bands.


#9

Hi again,

I have no idea what your company’s plans are regarding monitoring your trackable assets. My company produces a system called SpotMyBus (see spotmybus.com), so we have built complete infrastructure for tracking. If you think our infrastructure might be helpful to you, get in touch.

-Matt
1.757.277.4330