Category M1 (Cat M1) is a low-power wide area (LPWAN) cellular technology that is built specifically for IoT projects.

Like most LPWAN networks, Cat M1 functions at its best when transferring low to medium amounts of data at a long range.

On average, Cat M1 runs on a 1.4 MHZ spectrum with a transmit power of 20Bm, offering upload speeds between 200 kbps and 400 kbps on average.

This cellular technology benefits IoT applications for numerous reasons.

Cat M1’s low power requirement helps to minimize data cost and improve project efficiency. This is due to the small and infrequent data transfers, as well as Cat M1’s power-saving mode, which is activated when devices are not actively sending or receiving data.

Having to regularly swap the batteries on the hundreds of IoT-connected sensors that might be spread across a vineyard or a mining site can be a tedious task. Cat M1’s low power requirements on the device side can help to make this far less frequent.

Cat M1- also allows low-power wide area technologies to be used within a licensed spectrum, which provides enhanced security and privacy. This can be particularly useful when the data being transferred is particularly sensitive, such as military operations or crime enforcement processes.

Cat M1 is an excellent option for IoT applications that have low to medium data and usage and benefit from reduced battery and power consumption.

For example, agricultural IoT projects covering a wide geographic region, relying on connected sensors that infrequently send small to medium data loads, could use Cat M1 to bring additional efficiency to their operation.

Cat M1 pricing is very competitive compared to other providers in the market. This is because, unlike LoRaWAN, Cat M1 connectivity uses LTE, saving the cost of buying new antennas and other equipment to build the IoT system.

In addition, Cat M1’s low power consumption decreases maintenance costs drastically compared to other connectivity options like 3G and satellite.

Here are some of the devices that often use Cat M1 connectivity:

  • Asset trackers
  • Sensor devices
  • Utility meters
  • Monitoring systems