Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Telit backs Qualcomm LTE modem for IoT

Steve Rogerson
December 18, 2018

Qualcomm Technologies has announced a modem purpose-built for IoT applications such as asset trackers, health monitors, security systems, smart city sensors and smart meters, as well as a range of wearable trackers. And Telit says it will be one of the first to introduce an IoT module based on the modem.
The 9205 LTE modem brings together innovations required to build cellular-enabled IoT products and services in a single chipset, including global multimode LTE category M1 (eMTC) and NB2 (NB-IoT) as well as 2G/E-GPRS connectivity, application processing, geolocation, hardware-based security, support for cloud services and accompanying developer tools. 
Compared with its predecessor, the modem is engineered to reduce power consumption by up to 70% in idle mode, a critical consideration for battery-powered IoT devices that need to operate for ten years or longer in the field. The modem is also half the size and more cost-effective than its predecessor, making it suitable for IoT applications requiring low-power, wide-area connectivity in a small form factor. It is also software compatible with the Californian company’s prior LTE IoT products so module manufacturers can reuse software.
“The innovations included in the Qualcomm 9205 LTE modem are critical to support many of the six billion IoT devices expected to use low-power, wide-area connectivity by 2026,” said Vieri Vanghi, vice president for product management at Qualcomm. “LTE IoT technologies are the foundation of how 5G will help connect the massive IoT, and we are making these technologies available to customers worldwide to help them build innovations that can help transform industries and improve people’s lives.”
It supports both 3GPP release 14 Category M1 and NB2 for operation with networks using any of these LTE IoT modes, as well as 2G/E-GPRS to allow for connectivity in areas where LTE IoT is not yet deployed. Category M1 mode also supports voice for applications such as monitored security panels and mobility for applications such as asset trackers.
The modem has an RF transceiver with extended bandwidth support from 450 to 2100MHz. It integrates an RF front-end, said to be a commercial first in the cellular IoT space, which is designed to simplify the design and certification of products using the modem, and therefore accelerate time to commercialisation.
To increase battery life, the modem couples low system-level cut-off voltage with provisions for adapting power usage according to the state of charge of the battery.
The applications processor is an Arm Cortex A7 up to 800MHz with support for the Thread X and Alios Things real-time operating systems. The integrated applications processor avoids the need for an external microcontroller to improve cost efficiency and device security.
There is integrated global positioning support for GNSS including GPS, Beidou, Glonass and Galileo. The modem enables design flexibility allowing for the use of either a shared GNSS-LTE antenna or a dedicated one.
Hardware-based security includes secure boot from hardware root-of-trust, Qualcomm’s trusted execution environment, hardware cryptography, storage and debug security.
An LTE IoT software development kit (SDK) is designed to support developers in running custom software on the integrated applications processor, as well as to provide them access to additional capabilities of the modem, such as geolocation. The SDK has pre-integrated support for various cloud platforms, including Alibaba Cloud Link One, China Mobile OneNet, DTSTon DTCloud, Ericsson IoT Accelerator, Gizwits and Verizon ThingSpace, and it allows developers to extend this integration further and develop support for other major IoT cloud providers.
The first Telit products based on the modem include the xE310 family of LTE-M and NB-IoT modules. With one of the smallest form factors available, the family includes support for 2G fallback and GNSS location technology.
Telit's xE310 form factor is based on a single LGA pad layout supporting multiple module dimensions from miniature single mode NB-IoT variants for global applications, to larger versions supporting multi-mode multi technology packaging. The compact version is suitable for the nearly 900 million NB-IoT and LTE-M devices that ABI estimates will ship in 2023.
“The multimode, highly integrated capabilities of the Qualcomm 9205 LTE modem allow us to reduce power consumption and module footprint giving our customers the ability to design and deploy smaller, battery-powered devices that work worldwide on virtually any cellular IoT network,” said Manish Watwani, executive vice president at Telit. “As a global company, we build on Qualcomm Technologies’ innovations to deliver modules and IoT edge solutions used by companies around the world to improve productivity and deliver exciting new applications.”
Telit will also apply the modem in the ME910x1 and xL865 module families, addressing IoT applications with release 14 and other technical and cost requirements. The xE310, xE910 and xL865 products are suitable for future-proofing existing IoT applications on the road to 5G.
"The new compact form factor premiering the Qualcomm 9205 LTE modem is the latest example of how Telit leads the way with IoT modules based on Qualcomm Technologies' innovations," said Watwani. "Our new xE310, xE910 and xL865 modules will meet skyrocketing demand for ultra-compact, affordable and power-efficient solutions that leverage fast-growing LTE-M and NB-IoT mobile networks."
The modem builds on the commercial success of its predecessor, which counts more than 110 design-wins to date. Products based on the modem, including modules from Gemalto, Quectel and Telit, are expected to be commercially available in 2019.
“The new Qualcomm 9205 LTE modem is unique in integrating the critical technologies that our customers would need to create cellular-connected IoT,” said Doron Zhang, senior vice president at Quectel. “All its features are put together in a tiny and very energy-efficient chipset that will help Quectel to offer LTE IoT modules that are powerful, economical and with support for superb battery life.”
Andreas Haegele, senior vice president at Gemalto, added: “The Qualcomm 9205 modem is expanding the IoT ecosystem by providing a solid foundation for future-proof, multimode LTE-M and NB-IoT Cinterion modules designed to enable superior worldwide LPWAN connectivity as networks evolve. Our security enhancements provide a strong framework for unique Gemalto services such as device lifecycle management that help drive down TCO for device makers and IoT service providers.”