What is LTE (Long-Term Evolution)? The Definitive Guide


Long-Term Evolution(LTE) is a mobile communications technology created to satisfy the requirements of applications focused on machine-to-machine (M2M) or Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.

1. What is a LTE meaning?

What is a LTE meaning

LTE was intended to be an improved version of 3G, but with further development, it has gone beyond the original goals of the creators. It was only planned to be 3.9G, but successive versions have become full 4G due to ongoing enhancements.

TD-LTE and LTE FDD are the two primary variations of LTE in terms of versions. The two systems are used in various ways depending on the 2G and 3G networks. For instance, China Mobile adopts TD-LTE because TE-LTE can function well with the 3G network that China Mobile independently constructed. Unicom and Telecom are free to utilize any of the two versions alone or a mix of the two.

2. What does LTE-M stand for?

What does LTE-M stand for?

A wireless interface called Lte-m facilitates the connectivity of IoT and M2M devices with modest data transmission rate requirements. Let-m is a low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology. Compared to traditional cellular communications technologies like 2G, 3G, or higher LTE, the technology allows more extended battery life and broader in-building coverage. The key characteristics are:

  • A full range of motion and in-car switching
  • low energy use,
  • more coverage within the structure
  • supports VoLTE

Even when end devices are not directly linked to the grid, batteries that may last up to 10 years on a single charge can assist in lowering maintenance costs for deployed devices.

The interface may be utilized for applications that need some degree of human-computer interaction, such as specific health and safety applications like indwelling solutions and alarm panels, thanks to supporting VoLTE voice (4G+ HD voice) capabilities.

3. What is LTE CAT M

What is LTE CAT M

A low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology called LTE Cat M, commonly referred to as LTE-M, is intended to enable the “massive Internet of Things” using cellular technology, or hundreds of billions (!) of Internet of Things devices. Since CatM2 adoption is still a few years away, the term “CatM” mainly refers to CatM1.

In order to separate the functionality of each device connected to an LTE network, LTE radio technology employs “categories.” A family of devices known as CatM1 uses a constrained 1.4MHz channel to operate, with recorded download rates in the 589Kbps range and uplink speeds of 1.1Mbps (3GPP version 14). In contrast to Cat4 devices, which may employ carrier aggregation and offer download rates of up to 150Mbps, Cat1 devices can support download speeds of up to 10Mbps. Lower speeds (300Kbps downlink/375Kbps uplink) are available with older Cat-M modules.

4. How LTE-M works

How LTE-M works

In version 13 of the 3GPP standard, which specifies the narrowband Internet of Things (NBIoT or LTE Cat NB1, both LPWA technologies in the licensed spectrum), lt-m was first presented as LTE Cat M1. The 3GPP’s 14th revision created the LTE Cat M2 standard. While LTE Cat M2 will expand to 5 MHz, LTE Cat M1 delivers data at a bandwidth of 1.4 MHz. The standard will result in advancements in the following areas:

Data transmission rate

LTE Cat M1 is perfect for many IoT applications with low to medium data transfer rate needs since it can handle up to 375 KB/s uplink and downlink rates in half-duplex mode. The LTE Cat M2 will boost data throughput to a peak upload rate of 2.6 Mb/s and a peak download rate of 2.4 Mb/s, expanding the use of LTE-M even for applications requiring relatively high data transfer rates, such as video surveillance. Remote wireless firmware updates (FOTA) are also quicker, more efficient, and need less battery charge at these rates. LWM2M (Lightweight M2M), a small and lightweight protocol for internet of things applications, is supported by U-Blox for FOTA updates.


Compared to the mobile characteristics currently enabled by version 13 of LTE-M, version 14 of LTE-M now provides some benefits, including reduced power consumption and complete mobility (within and across frequencies) for mobile apps. Since it manages handovers between base stations like high-speed LTE, LTE-M is superior to NB-IoT for mobile use cases. An LTE-M device will function like a cellular phone and never be disconnected, for instance, if a vehicle has to pass through many separate network units to go from point A to point B. Instead, after arriving at the new network unit, NB-IoT devices must eventually create a new connection.

5. LTE-M technologies: CAT-M1 and CAT-M2

LTE-M technologies: CAT-M1 and CAT-M2

Features of LTE CAT 1

  • Latency is low (50 to 100ms)
  • LTE medium-speed standard
  • Suitable for IoT applications that need a lot of bandwidth
  • Greater building penetration
  • Full-duplex FDD/TDD and VoLTE support (LTE voice service)
  • Meet appropriate data uplink and downlink speeds
  • IoT and M2M communications are supported.
  • 3G and 2G are backward compatible.
  • Increased data transfer efficiency
  • Downlink (10Mb/s) and uplink (5Mb/s)
  • Voice assistance
  • Simple to use
  • Indoor protection
  • Support for mobile devices
  • Power consumption has been optimized in order to prolong battery life (up to 5 years)
  • Low power standby and sleep modes are supported.
  • Device for remote control
  • Meager cost


Although NB-IoT (also known as CAT-M2) performs a similar function to CAT-M, it employs DSSS modulation. Because NB-IoT cannot function in the LTE spectrum, operators must pay more upfront to adopt the technology.

Typically, gateways in other infrastructures are used to collect sensor data and subsequently connect to the primary server. However, the primary server will get sensor data immediately, thanks to NB-IoT technology. Additionally, NB-IoT is regarded as the less expensive solution since there is no need for gateways. As a result, Huawei, Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Vodafone are investing significantly in the NB-IoT commercial application. By the end of 2018, several worldwide areas are expected to have NB-IoT and LTE-M base stations deployed, according to Sierra Wireless.

6. Differences between LTE-M and NB-IoT

Differences between LTE-M and NB-IoT

Performance Delay

Low energy usage and good dependability in tough environments are two benefits of NB-IoT technology. NB-IoT is less appropriate for applications that call for very low network latency than LTE-M is. While LTE-M latency is often 100 to 150 milliseconds, Nb-IoT latency is typically equal to or less than 10 seconds (about 1.6 to 10 seconds).

Device mobility

NB-IoT does not entirely enable mobility compared to LTE-M, which also supports voice. It’s LTE-M for “completely seamless mobility.” the NB-IoT is still capable of being utilized for mobile assets and devices; as we sometimes hear, it’s simply limited. Real-time NB-IoT applications with trackers, apps for bike sharing, environmental applications with mobile components but low throughput, and intelligent logistics are a few examples. Fixed assets, such as smart meters or point-of-sale terminals, are often but not exclusively used in NB-IoT.

Energy efficiency

Compared to LTE-M, NB-IoT is also more oriented toward low energy and power consumption and has a potential battery life of more than ten years.


With NB-IoT, increased transmission power density is possible since it employs a single, 200KHz or 180KHz narrow band with smaller bandwidth. It elevates deep penetration capabilities (and increases overall coverage) over LTE-M and other improvements. For interior coverage, LTE-M also works, although NB-IoT is superior.

Technical details regarding coverage, reach, and depth of penetration: The maximum coupling loss for NB-IoT is 164 dB, which is a 20 dB improvement over GPRS‘s link budget.

7. What is the difference between LTE and LTE-M

What is the difference between LTE and LTE-M

The two issues at hand have two solutions recommended by 3GPP: LTE-u (LTE-unlicensed) and LTE-M (LTE-Machine to Machine).

The fundamental purpose of LTE-u is to address the present network speed, capacity, and user equipment on-demand contradictions. A carrier aggregation plan calls for spectrum, and because there isn’t enough approved spectrum to meet this need, the R13 proposes an authorized alternative: employing spectrum as the primary carrier. In order to accomplish the impact of carrier aggregation and increase rate and capacity, the unlicensed 5G spectrum is used as an auxiliary carrier.

Another alternative, primarily for the Internet of Things, is LTE-M, which was suggested in R12 and will be expanded upon in R13. In other words, the LTE spectrum is used to simplify the system and make it compatible with the Internet of Things’ low power consumption, high latency, and poor performance.

Only two alternatives are suggested to maintain 3GPP’s unwavering position in the wireless industry while adapting to the current new trend.

8. What is the coverage of LTE Networks

What is the coverage of LTE Networks

Factors that determine coverage

The signal in the LTE system may be split into uplink and downlink directions. The uplink coverage, or the coverage of the signal supplied by the terminal, determines the base station’s coverage due to the stark disparity in signal transmission strength.

How does the base station determine that it has received a signal from the terminal, then? The SINR, or signal-to-noise ratio, is used in this instance as the primary signal indication.

The most critical component in determining coverage is SINR

In other words, the base station’s received terminal signal’s SINR satisfies the minimal standard. The terminal in this instance is on the coverage border, which corresponds to the coverage area’s maximum.

The factors that affect SINR

Only the base station or user is tall enough to overcome the earth’s curvature since the planet is spherical. The typical base station antenna hanging height is 30 m, with a coverage distance of roughly 20 km. However, the calculation shows that if the base station or terminal height is 2 km, the maximum coverage distance may be expanded to around 160 km.

By the way, Ericsson has tested LTE using specialized terminals aboard flights. However, mounting the terminal atop a balloon at a distance of 2 km is also highly practical.

Another option is to construct a base station atop a 2-kilometer mountain, such as the summit of Huangshan Mountain, in order to cover a 160-kilometer region, nearly equivalent to Zhejiang Province.

The fact that there is only one base station and one user below it, with no interference I and just noise N, is the more crucial requirement. So even if you don’t utilize TA, the SINR doesn’t degrade.

There are several base stations and users beneath each base station in a typical network. The TA mechanism must be used to prevent interference from adjacent users, and its maximum processing capacity is 100 kilometers, which is where the term “100 kilometers” came from.

Expand the TA’s processing power

If you believe that TA is insufficient, you may also learn from the GSM processing approach to increase TA’s processing power.

9. What is the LTE bandwidth

LTE-M, an up-and-coming technology recently used in rail transportation, can only utilize a maximum bandwidth of 20M between 1785MHz and 1805MHz, and both the left and right frequency bands are already in use by other communication systems. Therefore, omitting the frequency isolation band, the usable bandwidth, when utilized on the ground, is just 15M or 10M. It must also be shared with the oil, electrical, and transportation sectors. Physical barriers in separate tubes separate the upstream and downstream of the classic subway’s underground section. It is possible to employ a network of several cells operating at the same frequency, with the upstream and downstream occupying a maximum bandwidth of 20M each. Since the upper and lower lines share a 10M or 15M bandwidth and there is no physical separation between them, the cloud rail can only be covered by a single cell for a single hole and double track, similar to a subway therefore LTE-M can currently only handle CBTC and PIS systems. However, LTE-M has a cluster system of its own that can replace the TETRA system, which lowers the cost.

10. Introduction to LTE-M communication protocol

LTE Protocol Architecture

The user plane protocol stack and control plane protocol stack are two subsets of the E-UTRAN system’s air interface protocol stack. Physical layer (PHY), media access control (MAC), Wireless Link Control (RLC), and packet data aggregation (PDCP) are the four layers that make up the user plane protocol stack. At the network side’s eNode B entity, these sublayers end.

The LTE system divides the data processing process into many protocol levels. Several protocol layer entities handle IP packets used for downlink data transmission before being delivered over the air interface. The entire protocol architecture for downlink transmission in LTE networks is shown in the above image.

Numerous methods are used in the actual design to represent the chip’s performance best. Coding and decoding, modulation and demodulation, multi-antenna mapping, and other telecommunications physical layer operations are all performed at the physical layer. The protocol’s most sophisticated layer is also the one that undergoes the most product testing. It must cooperate with hardware and is strongly tied to hardware.

  • MAC layer: manages upstream and downstream scheduling as well as HARQ retransmission. Retransmission and scheduling may be done properly, and the rate will be represented for the whole product, which is to say that the essence of L2 is there.
  • NAS layer: handles information transfer between UE and MME. Information about users or controls may be included in the material. This includes user administration, security management, and session management. The AS layer, which we refer to as being behind the NAS layer, is transparent to eNode B. As observed in the accompanying image, eNode B lacks this layered protocol; therefore all NAS communications travel through to it.
  • RLC layer: accountable for high-level data segmentation and connectivity, retransmission processing, and sequential transmission.
  • RRC layer: eNode B’s most important signaling protocol, supporting various operations between terminals. It encompasses wireless resource algorithms, which in a broad sense govern wireless behavior in real-world applications.
  • PDCP layer: is in charge of compressing headers to lower the quantity of bit traffic that the wireless interface must broadcast.

11. Introduction of LTE frequency

The standard organizations established by 3GPP, which are in charge of LTE and 5G, are LTE-m (Long-term Evolution of Machines) and NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things). They provide carriers the chance to use their current mobile infrastructure to facilitate the broad use of IoT devices. They are trustworthy and safe and can provide a dependable level of service as long as they stay within their mission.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, sometimes referred to as MTC, includes both NB-IoT and MTC. They may assist with implementing programs like asset tracking, environmental monitoring, and smart cities. From the beginning, carriers have previously utilized 2G and 3G networks for specific IoT applications, such as fleet monitoring. LTE-M and NB-IoT can both transfer modest quantities of data over extended periods, however, they are not the same as IoT devices. They are thus less complicated and expensive than other mobile phone standards. Transformation: The device’s battery life may last up to 10 years because of its ultra-low power usage. These networks are frequently referred to as low-power WANs because of this (LPWAN).

12. Advantages of LTE technology

  • LTE communication technology has many advantages over earlier wireless communication technologies, including quick communication speeds, a broad network spectrum, flexible communication, powerful terminal functionality, high intelligence, good compatibility, more value-added communication services, high communication quality, and high-frequency band efficiency.
  • High communication rate: The downlink peak rate of LTE is 100Mbit/s, and the uplink peak rate is 50MBit/s, which is several times faster than the 3G wireless communication system. LTE communication technology offers variable bandwidth, up to 20MHz.
  • High spectral efficiency: Compared to 3G wireless communication systems, LTE communication technology significantly improves spectral efficiency via carrier aggregation, OFDM, and other technologies. Uplink spectral efficiency can reach 2.5 bit/s, while downlink spectral efficiency can reach 5 bit/s (s.hz).
  • LTE wireless communication system is based on packet switching in the overall architecture with high data rate, low latency, and packet domain service optimization as the primary goals.
  • QoS guarantee: Distinct wireless communication applications have different QoS specifications. Through a rigid QoS mechanism, the LTE wireless communication system guarantees the quality of service for a variety of services, including real-time services (VoIP) and network surfing.
  • Low latency: Within the user plane, the unidirectional transmission latency is less than 5 ms. Less than 50ms pass between the control plane, migrating from the sleep state to the active state. During migration, less than 100ms pass between the dwell state and the active state.
  • Good convergence: The next-generation network (NGN) architecture, which LTE wireless communication system adopts, enables convergence and coexistence with WIFI and other wireless communication technologies, forming a multi-level wireless network environment. LTE wireless communication system also supports richer mobile services, such as multimedia information, video calling, broadband data transmission, conference television, and more. Users may quickly get whatever information services they need.
  • High degree of flexibility: LTE wireless communication system adopts all-IP network architecture, the system network architecture is flat, and the system networking and expansion flexibility are high. LTE communication technology supports paired or unpaired spectrum and can be flexibly configured with 1.25 MHz to 20 MHz bandwidth.

13. Where is LTE used? LTE Applications.

Where is LTE used? LTE Applications

The main benefit of TE-M is security. A SIM chip, which may be integrated into a circuit board and prepared in a factory to set up keys and signatures, is necessary for a device linked to a phone. These embedded keys cannot be changed without having physical access to the device after they have been set up for the SIM card.

An authentication and NSasuiteBaES-256 encryption service is offered by the security module SIM.

LTE-M also benefits from maintaining connectivity even when there is a power loss. Since he is connected to a cellular network, he doesn’t need an access point (AP), which remains linked as long as the IoT device’s battery is functioning normally.

Because of this, cellular IoT connection is extensively employed in crucial areas, including fleet management, home and office security, and the power grid.