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U-blox cellular module integrates GNSS with LTE modem for IoT

November 7, 2016  - By

U-blox has launched the LARA-R3121, a new module comprising a single-mode LTE Category 1 modem and a GNSS positioning engine specifically designed for Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices.

The LARA-R3121 is designed for IoT applications including smart utility metering, connected health and patient monitoring, smart buildings, security and video surveillance, smart payment and point-of-sale (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 life cycles. 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 and 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 for compact IoT devices. This standardized package enables straightforward automated manufacturing and is pin-compatible with the u-blox LARA-R2 series, which supports multimode LTE Cat 1 with 2G/3G fallback.

LARA-R3121 module by u-blox.

LARA-R3121 module by u-blox.

According to the company, it is a landmark in u-blox’s long-term strategy to create modules based on the UBX-R3 LTE modem technology platform, an internally developed, flexible, software-defined modem architecture specifically designed for IoT and M2M.

The essential modem, positioning and module components of the LARA-R3121 are developed in-house, allowing for 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.

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