LTE-M – the new GSM

LTE-M – the new GSM

Rohde & Schwarz offers comprehensive test solutions to cover the most demanding LTE-M / eMTC test requirements – from design to production and deployment

3GPP started to specify low complexity UE for machine-type communication (MTC) that allow single RF chain half-duplex operations as early as Release 12. Defined as the new LTE category 0 (Cat 0), it required support of the full LTE carrier bandwidth to receive the LTE control information. As part of the enhanced MTC (eMTC) activities, Release 13 specified bandwidth-reduced low-complexity (BL) UE. The first network deployments for the new Cat M1 started in North America in late 2017. In the future, the very flexible numerology of 5G NR will also allow LTE-M deployment.

The unique feature set of LTE-M

LTE-M is sometimes also called the new GSM for M2M/IoT. Beside global coverage and mobility, LTE-M also supports VoLTE with device costs comparable to GSM. This makes it very attractive for a several IoT applications, including devices with emergency call functions such as child trackers. Moreover, LTE-M can reduce battery consumption and improve indoor coverage. It was initially limited to a bandwidth of 1.4 MHz (Cat M1) and some coverage enhancements feature like frequency hopping and subframe repetitions (CE modes A/B). In order to meet the requirement for more data throughput in Release 14, the new Cat M2 was introduced allowing the optional use of 5 MHz bandwidth. A battery life of more than 10 years calls for specific power saving features like PSM, eDRX or release assistance indication (RAI). Moreover, the introduction of LTE-M and NB-IoT required an optimized core architecture to be specified that allows, for example, the transmission of user data via the control plane and early data transmission (EDT).

Your LTE-M test challenges

LTE-M and the bandwidth-reduced low-complexity UEs are based on LTE with some optimizations. Hence, the majority of test applications are very similar to testing an LTE modem. However, specific application features require particular attention. For example, detailed analysis and optimization of power consumption under different configurations and operational models is highly recommend to ensure a battery life of more than 10 years. Operations under indoor coverage conditions require best-in-class RF and antenna designs, which are ideally verified by over-the-air testing. It is also recommended to analyze the impact of different CE levels on power consumption and latency as well as operations under different fading conditions. End-to-end application testing including VoLTE and, in particular, verifying secure and private communications behavior is also of interest.

Benefits of Rohde & Schwarz LTE-M test solutions

  • Complete set of solution covering tests for base stations, chips, modules and devices
  • Test solutions for every area – from R&D to production and service
  • Best-in-class solutions for conformance, preconformance and operator acceptance testing

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Get your free LTE-M poster

Get your free LTE-M poster

Get a quick overview of the technology components specified in 3GPP Releases 13 and 14 for LTE-M. Sign up and receive your free poster.

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Related resources

Secure or not secure? Analysis of IP security mechanisms in IoT and mobile devices

Webinar: Secure or not secure? Analysis of IP security mechanisms in IoT and mobile devices

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Measuring power consumption of LTE modules in idle mode

Video: Let's talk IoT – Measuring power consumption of LTE modules in idle mode

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Let’s talk IoT – Insights into LTE-M in 3GPP Release 14

Video: Let's talk IoT – Insights into LTE-M in 3GPP Release 14

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Related topics

IoT testing

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NB-IoT / LTE-M network testing

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