Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

U-Blox tackles IoT security with 5G-ready module

Steve Rogerson
June 12, 2019



Swiss connectivity company U-Blox is tackling IoT security with a 5G-ready cellular module and chipset for low power wide area IoT applications.
 
The module offers wireless technology integration with end-to-end device and data security, making it suitable for mission-critical or long life cycle IoT applications.
 
The Sara-R5 LTE-M and NB-IoT modules for low power wide area (LPWA) IoT applications are built on the firm’s UBX-R5 cellular chipset and the M8 GNSS receiver chip. They provide end-to-end security and long product availability, making them suitable for IoT applications with long-term device deployments.
 
“Sara-R5 sets a new benchmark for IoT connectivity,” said Andreas Thiel, head of product centres at U-Blox. “By integrating a hardware-based root of trust in a discrete secure element within the UBX-R5 chipset, we are paving the way for robust secure communication from the chip all the way to the cloud. The secure element is compliant with EAL5+ high common criteria certification, which makes Sara-R5 ideally suited to protect sensitive assets and communications.”
 
The module also has a lightweight and low power pre-shared key (PSK) management system that is tailored to the needs of IoT applications, along with a set of security features.
 
“Kudelski and U-Blox are making IoT simple and secure for anyone that adopts Sara-R5,” said Jean-Michel Puiatti, SVP of IoT security at Kudelski Group. “By establishing an immutable identity in every module, we lay the foundations for robust protection of the device, data, decisions, commands and actions. This ensures that companies achieve their IoT business objectives and long-term return on investment with confidence.”
 
With mobile network operators announcing their plans to roll out 5G networks, 5G readiness is becoming a key factor in selecting cellular communication modules. LTE-M and NB-IoT are forward compatible with 5G networks and, by implementing key LTE-M and NB-IoT features from 3GPP release 14, Sara-R5 can provide users with a smooth transition towards 5G via software upgrades to already deployed devices.
 
The series builds on the UBX-R5 LTE chipset and the M8 GNSS chip, which means that production and product lifetime are not dependent on third party chipmakers. For users, this translates into long-term availability, roadmap stability and technical support down to the silicon level. Core technology ownership enables features relevant for positioning, timing, connectivity and security.
 
Sara-R5 comes in two product variants. With a built-in M8 GNSS receiver, Sara-R511M targets mobile applications in the automotive, fleet management, tracking and telematics sectors. The GNSS receiver’s chip-down design includes a dedicated GNSS antenna interface and can run in parallel with the cellular connection. This increases design flexibility, while preserving overall system power consumption.
 
The second variant, Sara-R510M, is optimised to deliver low power consumption, drawing less than 1µA in power save mode, making it suitable for metering, smart city, connected health, security and surveillance, remote monitoring, and other battery-powered applications.
 
“The Sara-R5 is the first module in our portfolio designed to enable value-added services and features that can be remotely activated at any time on already deployed devices,” said Thiel. “The modules are also U-Blox’s first with integrated eSIM capability, offering SIM activation and subscription management options to our customers.”
 
Samples for the Sara-R5 series will be available towards the end of this year.