Managing the communication needs of IoT devices is a work in progress. There are a number of short-range and long-range wireless network protocols — Bluetooth, BLE, Zigbee and LoRaWAN, to name a few—that have their place but also have limitations, especially when it comes to massive IoT support and long-range, mobile use cases.
On the other hand, cellular networks are striving to evolve next-generation networks that provide the infrastructure to support higher bandwidth and lower latency. This will make them best suited for mission-critical, data-intensive and time-sensitive applications but inefficient for massive IoT applications that require lower bandwidths, lower data rates and reduced transmit power.
Taking note of these limitations, 3GPP introduced two new standards in its LTE Release 13: Enhanced Machine-Type Communication (eMTC) and NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT).
Both are intended to cater to the requirements of IoT devices but are fundamentally different in approach. What’s more, both come with their own set of pros and cons. This whitepaper talks about the technical aspects of the eMTC feature at a high level. eMTC has other names. It is referred to as BL/CE where BL stands for bandwidth reduced, low complexity and CE stands for coverage enhancement. It is also referred to as LTE-M1 or CAT-M1.
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