LTE, LTE-M, NB-IoT Antenna Serves Embedded Surface-Mount Needs

Linx Technologies, has introduced its Splatch SP610 surface-mount embedded antenna for LTE cellular applications, including LTE-M (Cat-M1) and NB-IoT cellular Internet of Things (IoT) uses. Measuring a compact 10 mm by 40 mm and just 2.8 mm high, the surface-mount SP610 antenna achieves high performance in the more challenging 700 MHz bands as well as common higher-frequency bands.  Like all of Linx’s Splatch antennas, the SP610 is designed to accommodate close proximity effects from interferers such as other solution components or the human body. This combination of small size and robust performance makes it especially well-suited for cellular IoT applications.

The SP610 targets North American cellular carriers for all LTE applications with excellent performance in the 700 MHz frequency bands favored by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, while providing strong performance in 800 MHz, 900 MHz and > 1 GHz bands used by carriers, worldwide. Additionally, the SP610 provides full band support for LTE-M and NB-IoT applications which use sub-1 GHz frequencies to achieve longer range, and often use frequency band edges to avoid other cellular traffic.

The SP610 is available today in tape and reel packaging via Linx Technologies’ distributor and manufacturer representative networks.

Linx Technologies | www.linxtechnologies.com

IoT Modules Enable Large-Scale LTE-M and NB-IoT Deployments

Telit has announced the ME310G1 (shown) and ME910G1 modules, designed for mass-scale LTE-M and NB-IoT deployments that feature hundreds of thousands or millions of devices. Based on the new Qualcomm 9205 LTE modem and featuring optional 2G fallback, the modules also provide a future-proof foundation for IoT deployments that span legacy networks, 4G and 5G.
The ME310G1 and ME910G1 are the first 3GPP Release 14 additions to the Telit portfolio and the first members of Telit’s new series based on the Qualcomm 9205 LTE IoT Modem, which was announced in late 2018. The highly compact chipset enables Telit to meet booming global demand for ultra-small modules for applications such as wearable medical devices, fitness trackers and industrial sensors.

The new modules are ideal for battery-powered applications via improved features such as Power Saving Mode (PSM) and extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX), which periodically wakes up the device to transmit only the smallest amounts of data necessary before returning to sleep mode. Both modules also ensure reliable indoor connections, with a maximum coupling loss of up to +15dB/+20dB for superior in-building penetration compared to earlier LTE standards.

The multi-band ME310G1 and ME910G1 are available in versions with 2G fallback for use in areas where LTE-M/NB-IoT service is yet to be deployed. These versions also support GSM voice and will support VoLTE for applications that require the ability to make phone calls.

The ME910G1 is the latest member of Telit’s best-selling xE910 and family. The ME910G1 is also a drop-in replacement in existing devices based on the family’s modules for 2G, 3G and the various categories of LTE. With Telit’s design-once-use-anywhere philosophy, developers can cut costs and development time by simply designing for the xE910 LGA common form factor, giving them the freedom to deploy technologies best suited for the application’s environment.

The ME310G1 LTE-only variant is less than 200 mm-squared and variant with 2G fallback is less than 300 mm2-squared and they enable enterprises to deploy new small footprint designs across many application areas including asset tracking, health-care monitoring, smart metering, portable devices, industrial sensors, home automation, and others that benefit from low-power and low-data rate capabilities. The xE310 family’s flexible perimeter footprint includes pin-to-pin compatible 2G and 4G modules, enabling integrators to design a single PCB layout and deploy a combination of technologies.

ME310G1 and ME910G1 samples are now available. Mass production begins in late 2019 and Q1 2020, depending on the product version.

Telit | www.telit.com

Study Predicts 5G Will Reach the IoT Market in Late 2020

According to a new report from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, 5G will make its first appearance in the IoT market in late 2020. The first 5G cellular IoT modules will become available to developers this year, enabling early adopters to create the first IoT devices based on the standard. Based on the experience of previous introductions of new standards, 5G will however not be an instant hit. By 2023, Berg Insight forecasts that 5G will account for just under 3 percent of the total installed base of cellular IoT devices.
“5G still has some way to go before it can become a mainstream technology for cellular IoT”, says Tobias Ryberg, Principal Analyst and author of the report. “Just like 4G when it was first introduced, the initial version of 5G is mostly about improving network performance and data capacity. This is only relevant for a smaller subset of high-bandwidth cellular IoT applications like connected cars, security cameras and industrial routers.” Ryberg predicts that he real commercial breakthrough won’t happen until the massive machine type communication (mMTC) use case has been implemented in the standard.

mMTC is intended as an evolution of the LTE-M/NB-IoT enhancements to the 4G standard. Since NB-IoT has only just started to appear in commercial products, there is no immediate demand for a successor. Over time, fifth generation mobile networks will however become necessary to cope with the expected exponential growth of IoT connections and data traffic. The report identifies homeland security as an area where 5G cellular IoT can have a major impact already in the early 2020s. “5G enables the deployment of high-density networks of AI-supported security cameras to monitor anything form security-classified facilities to national borders or entire cities”, says Mr. Ryberg. “How this technology is used and by whom is likely to become one of the most controversial issues in the next decade.”

Berg Insight | www.berginsight.com

IoT Module Family Features Ultra-Compact Form Factor

Telit has announced the xE310 family of miniature IoT modules. With initial models planned in LTE-M, NB-IoT and European 2G, the new form factor will enable Telit to meet growing demand for ultra-small, high-performance modules for wearable medical devices, fitness trackers, industrial sensors, smart metering, and other mass-production, massive deployment applications. Telit will start shipping xE310 modules in Q4 this year.
Telit claims the xE310 family is one of the smallest LGA form factors available in the market with a flexible perimeter footprint supporting various sizes from compact to smaller than 200 mm2. The xE310’s 94 pads include spares to provide Telit the flexibility to quickly deliver support for additional features as technologies, applications and markets evolve. Spares can be used for modules supporting Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or enhanced location technologies—in addition to cellular—while maintaining compatibility with cellular only models. They can also be used for additional connections that may be required for new 5G-enabled features.

The new form factor also gives OEMs greater flexibility, efficiency and yield during design and manufacturing. The xE310 family provides easy PCB routing while minimizing manufacturing process issues such as planarity and bending. The unique circular pad facilitates correct package orientation for automated assembly.

To learn more about the new xE310 family, visit the Telit stand 431 at IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on October 16-18.

For a look at how this new design is enabling smart metering applications, register for the Telit webinar on November 15: “From 2G to 5G: 5 things you need to know for smarter utilities”: https://www.smart-energy.com/industry-sectors/data_analytics/webinar-15-november-5-things-you-need-to-know-for-smarter-utilities/.

Telit | www.telit.com

Development Kit Rolls for Cellular LTE-M Smart Modem

Digi International has announced the availability of the Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M development kits, featuring Digi’s next-generation smart cellular modem. This LTE-M certification, to be followed by the certification of Digi XBee3 Cellular NB-IoT in October 2018, allows Digi to claim having one of the first LPWA, software-defined technology-agile modems capable of offering Cat-M or NB-IoT on a single, compact footprint. Designed to be configurable, developers can easily standardize and future-proof their IoT designs by simply changing modems and SIMs to leverage different wireless protocols without having to redesign hardware for different regions or applications.
The new Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M smart modem is integrated into the development kit via a 20-pin Digi XBee socket, ultimately allowing for solution connectivity via millions of sockets already deployed around the globe. The module can also be easily configured and controlled from a centralized platform such as the Digi Remote Manager..

Digi International is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN),  and the Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M is a smart cellular modem supported by AWS IoT Core. With built-in Digi TrustFence security, the module’s identity and data privacy features use more than 175 controls to protect against new and evolving cyber threats. It also provides the tools to secure connected devices, including data in motion with TLS 1.2 encryption and bi-directional authentication, required for AWS IoT connectivity.

Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M Smart Modem Capabilities

  • FCC certified and carrier end-device certified
  • Integrated MicroPython programmability
  • Up to 180 days of free cellular service with development kits*
  • Excellent coverage and building penetration
  • Low power consumption optimized for long battery life
  • Direct USB provides easy PPP integration option
  • Enhanced with Digi TrustFence security framework
  • Manage and configure with XCTU and Digi Remote Manager
  • Digi XBee Transparent and API modes simplify design
  • Reduced hardware complexity with only one antenna required
  • Development Kit Availability

The Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M smart modem development kit is now available for evaluation and testing. The kit includes one Digi XBee3 Cellular LTE-M embedded modem, one XBee3 development board, one active SIM, up to six months of free cellular service*, antennas and power supply, and Digi’s full library of documentation and examples.

Digi International | www.digi.com

Cloud-based Eval Service for Nordic BLE SoC-Based Designs

Nordic Semiconductor has launched “nRF Connect for Cloud”, a free service for Cloud-based evaluation, test, and verification of Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) designs employing Nordic’s nRF51 and nRF52 Series multiprotocol Bluetooth LE SoCs. nRF Connect for Cloud features an intuitive workflow and offers much of the functionality of Nordic’s “nRF Connect for Desktop” and “nRF Connect for Mobile” which are popular applications used for building and developing Bluetooth LE products. nRF Connect for Cloud also supports an extensive range of standard Bluetooth services together with proprietary services such as nRF UART.
Operating with all popular browsers, nRF Connect for Cloud uses web Bluetooth application programming interfaces (APIs) to push and extract data to and from the Cloud, enabling the developer to test and modify the behavior and performance of prototypes. By using the front-end and visualization features of nRF Connect for Cloud, historical data can be extracted from databases and analyzed in a browser. The product also allows engineers to monitor and interact with remote wireless IoT designs enabling the collaboration of geographically separate development teams on a single project.

nRF Connect for Cloud is supported by the nRF Gateway App available for iOS and Android-powered mobile devices. The nRF Gateway App enables Nordic Bluetooth LE devices to use a smartphone-enabled Internet gateway to convert Bluetooth LE messages to ReST/MQTT/IP protocols for Cloud interoperability.

The Gateway App communicates with the nRF Connect for Cloud back-end hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is based on Software as a Service (SaaS) components. By leveraging AWS industry-grade components, the app implements end-to-end data and device connectivity, guarantees reliability, and scales from a few to hundreds of Bluetooth LE devices.

nRF Connect for Cloud currently supports Bluetooth LE solutions but future versions will also support Nordic’s nRF91 Series low power, global multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT System-in-Package (SiP) for cellular IoT.

nRF Connect for Cloud works out-of-the-box with the Nordic Thingy:52 IoT Sensor Kit, Nordic nRF5 development kit (DK), and software development kit (SDK) examples. A quick-start guide is available from www.nrfcloud.com.

Nordic Semiconductor | www.nordicsemi.com

Wireless Standards and Solutions for IoT

Protocol Choices Abound

One of the critical enabling technologies making the Internet-of-Things possible is the set of well-established wireless standards that allow movement of data to and from low-power edge devices. These standards are being implemented in a variety of chip- and module-based solutions.

By Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Connecting the various nodes of an IoT implementation can involve a number of wired and wireless network technologies. It’s rare that an IoT system can be completely hardwired end to end. That means most IoT systems of any large scale depend on a variety of wireless technologies including everything from device-level technologies to Wi-Fi to cellular networking.

IoT system developers have a rich set of wireless standards to choose from. And these can be implemented from the gateway and the device side using a variety of wireless IoT solutions in both module and chip form. Some of these are available from the leading microcontroller vendors, but a growing number are IoT-specialist chip and module vendors. Many of today’s solutions combine multiple protocols on the same device, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE (BLE) for example. We’ll look at each of the major wireless standards appropriate to IoT, along with representative interface solutions for each.

LoRaWAN

Managed by the LoRa Alliance, the LoRaWAN specification is a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery operated ‘things’ to the internet in regional, national or global networks. It meets key IoT requirements such as bi-directional communication, end-to-end security, mobility and localization services.

The networking architecture of LoRaWAN is deployed in a star-of-stars topology in which gateways relay messages between end devices and a central network server. Gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections and act as a transparent bridge, simply converting RF packets to IP packets and vice versa. The wireless communication takes advantage of the Long Range characteristics of the LoRa physical layer, allowing a single-hop link between the end-device and one or many gateways. All modes are capable of bi-directional communication, and support is included for multicast addressing groups to make efficient use of spectrum during tasks such as Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) upgrades or other mass distribution messages.

In a recent LoRaWAN product example, Cypress Semiconductor in June announced its teaming up with Semtech on a compact, two-chip LoRaWAN-based module deployed by Onethinx. The highly-integrated Onethinx module is well-suited for smart city applications that integrate multiple sensors and are in harsh radio environments (Figure 1). Using Cypress’ PSoC 6 MCU hardware-based Secure Element functionality and Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology), the solution enables a multi-layer security architecture that isolates trust anchors for highly protected device-to-cloud connectivity. In addition, the PSoC 6 MCU’s integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity provides a simple, low-power, out-of-band control channel. Cypress claims the PSoC 6 device as the industry’s lowest power, most flexible Arm Cortex-M dual-core MCU with a power slope as low as 22-μA/MHz active power for the Cortex-M4 core. The device works well with Semtech’s latest LoRa radio chip family, which offers 50% power savings in receive mode and 20% longer range over previous-generation devices.

Figure 1
Using Cypress’ PSoC 6 MCU hardware-based Secure Element functionality and Semtech’s LoRa devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology), the Onethinx module enables a multi-layer security architecture that isolates trust anchors for highly protected device-to-cloud connectivity.

The Onethinx module uses the integrated Secure Element functionality in the PSoC 6 MCU to give each LoRaWAN-based device a secret identity to securely boot and deliver data to the cloud application. Using its mutual authentication capabilities, the PSoC 6 MCU-based, LoRa-equipped device can also receive authenticated over-the-air firmware updates. Key provisioning and management services are provided by IoT security provider and member of the Bosch group, ESCRYPT, for a complete end-to-end, secure LoRaWAN solution. The module, offered by Cypress partner Onethinx, connects to Bosch Sensortec’s Cross Domain Development Kit (XDK) for Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors and to the provisioning system from ESCRYPT to securely connect.

Wi-Fi (802.11)

In systems where power is less of a constraint, the ubiquitous standard
Wi-Fi 802.11 is also a good method of IoT connectivity—whether leveraging off of existing Wi-Fi infrastructures or just using Wi-Fi hubs and routers in a purposed-built network implementation. As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi is often available integrated with other wireless protocols such as Bluetooth. …

Read the full article in the July 336 issue of Circuit Cellar

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