First cellular IoT module with LTE and integrated GNSS

Jon Lawson

U-blox has developed the first single mode LTE Category 1 modem with GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) positioning specifically designed for the Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M devices.

The LTE modem, GNSS and module technology for the LARA-R3121 were all developed in-house at u-blox for IoT applications including smart utility metering, connected health and patient monitoring, smart buildings, security and video surveillance, smart payment and POS systems, as well as wearable devices, such as action cameras.

“Most IoT modules on the market use LTE modem technology, developed by handset-focused silicon vendors. They may not provide the best fit for IoT applications, because they focus on features targeted at Tier 1 handset makers, limited by short lifecycles. The LARA-R3121 is different with features and qualifications crafted for the industrial markets,” said Andreas Thiel, u-blox Co-Founder and Executive VP, Cellular Products & IC Design. “This is the only cellular module comprising a LTE Cat 1 modem and a GNSS engine, with complete module hardware and software all developed by a single supplier. With our focus on the IoT market, we bring an 'IoT first' approach to silicon design.”  

The LARA-R3121 is supplied in the small 24 x 26 mm LARA LGA form factor, ideal for compact IoT devices. This standardized package enables straightforward automated manufacturing, and it is pin-compatible with the u-blox LARA-R2 series, which supports multimode LTE Cat 1 with fallback to 2G or 3G networks.

The modem, positioning and module components of the LARA-R3121 are developed in-house, allowing for full freedom for innovative feature development, for enabling end-to-end security and giving full control of product quality, while ensuring the long term product availability required by many IoT applications.

Because modem and GNSS technologies were all developed in-house, u-blox is also able to provide unparalleled technical support for developers.

The LARA-R3121 features FOTA, providing customers with a solution to issue firmware over the air updates. It also benefits from end-to-end security features, such as secure boot, secure transport layer, secure authentication, secure interfaces and APIs.

Like other cellular modules from u-blox, it complies with a nested architecture, which allows for easy migration, and future-proof, seamless mechanical scalability across cellular technologies.

As a single mode, LTE-only device, LARA-R3121 takes advantage of the fact that LTE networks are becoming universally available. Increasingly, products do not require fallback to 3G or 2G, which means that non-essential components can be removed, reducing cost and power consumption.

The 10 Mbits downstream and 5 Mbits upstream maximum throughput of LTE Cat 1 provides data rates sufficient for good quality video streaming.