Imagine a city that’s more sustainable, safer, and cheaper to maintain. Welcome to the smart city.

Courtesy of u-blox

The places we live are changing. Underpinned by the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), we’re creating connected cities that are cleaner, more efficient, and more secure. Are you ready to be part of the revolution?

Technology is already transforming our cities. By 2020, there will be more than a billion smart energy meters in use. There will also be 50 million smart street lights, and close to a million smart bins.

And smart equals savings. Smart transport systems can save cities $800 billion per year. And that’s just the start.

At the heart of the smart city is its network of sensors and controllers. Using state‑of‑the‑art wireless communication, positioning, and timing technologies, these enable us to create safer and more sustainable places to live, work, and visit.

Read on to discover how smart technology could transform your city.

More sustainable cities

Smart cities are environmentally sustainable. They take full advantage of clean energy and keep electricity and fuel usage to a minimum. Emissions are low, while waste is minimized.

Making this possible are pioneering initiatives such as smart street lighting, optimized waste‑collection routes, and smart parking systems that guide drivers straight to available spaces, reducing their search times and traffic.

Lower ongoing costs

Smart cities are also financially sustainable. Low energy usage means lower bills. Remote asset monitoring combines with artificial intelligence to reduce asset wear and tear and cut maintenance costs by allocating resources and repair schedules in clever ways.

Over‑the‑air software and security updates mean assets have longer lifespans and less need for human intervention.

Safer cities

Smart cities are also safer because they use innovative techniques to cut crime and reduce accidents. Responsive lighting, improved surveillance, and intelligent monitoring make the public realm safer today and enable planners to make further improvements based on real insights.

Securing your smart city

As you connect up your sensitive infrastructure, securing it becomes ever‑more important. It also becomes more challenging, with so many components in play.

u-blox eCall / ERA-GLONASS

Courtesy of u-blox

Automated emergency response systems

eCall and ERA‑GLONASS are a European, respectively Russian initiative to combine mobile communications and satellite positioning to provide rapid assistance to motorists in the event of a collision.

The systems, the first based on GPS the latter on GLONASS, monitor in‑vehicle sensors for such events as airbag deployment to automatically transmit location details and summon assistance via emergency cellular service. The motivation for both systems is the reduction of the consequences of road accidents in Europe and Russia.

When activated, the in‑vehicle systems automatically initiate an emergency call carrying both voice and data (including location data) directly to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point to determine whether rescue services should be dispatched to the known position.

The core functionality of both systems is an embedded computer that continuously monitors crash sensors and satellite positioning receiver in order to initiate an automated data and full duplex voice call via a dedicated wireless modem (e.g. GSM, UMTS) in case of an emergency condition. In‑band modem capability, the ability to transmit data over the voice channel, is a key requirement for both systems. The goal is to equip all cars in the EU and Russia with dedicated hardware either as firstmount unit in new cars, or installed in pre‑existing vehicles (after market devices).
With the imminent deployment of ERA‑GLONASS and eCall, development of in‑vehicle terminals is in full swing. The correct choice of components has a large affect on time‑to‑market. Important factors to consider are the supplier’s know‑how and ability to support design‑in requirements of GPS/GLONASS and GSM/UMTS subsystems, comprehensive software support, certification of the wireless modem, forward compatibility with future technologies, as well as the ability to deliver high‑quality automotive‑grade components in high‑volume. u‑blox provides wireless and GPS/GLONASS receiver components for both eCall and ERA‑GLONASS that meet these criteria. For more details about u‑blox’ solutions and test enviroment for eCall and ERA‑GLONASS, contact u‑blox.

Additional reading:
Whitepaper: “European eCall will deploy in 2015” (English PDFKorean PDF)
2‑page flyer: eCall / ERA‑GLONASS: u‑blox’ emergency response solutions
Application Note: eCall / ERA GLONASS implementation in u‑blox wireless modules
Whitepaper: u‑blox’ comprehensive approach to multi‑GNSS positioning

u-blox LARA-R3 LTE Cat 1: reliable positioning outdoors & indoors

LARA-R3 combines industry-leading u-blox 8 GNSS technology along with u-blox CellLocate, to give you accurate and reliable positioning data outdoors as well as indoors. Innovative LTE communication and positioning technology offers the perfect combination for asset tracking and vehicle tracking, as well as industrial automation, monitoring and control.


Courtesy of u-blox

The automotive and transportation industries are already in the “next big technological battleground,” with plenty of opportunities for hardware, software, and services innovation. How and when we move toward fully autonomous vehicles will be determined by how these first critical steps are managed and implemented. The stakes are high, where mistakes can mean confidence lost or even the loss of lives. Minimizing risk and errors during rapid innovation is critical, as is choosing the right technologies – and the right partners.

Partnership of excellence
u-blox provides the technologies for tomorrow’s connected driving experience. We help in the design of systems through close integration of our portfolio, making it easier for device manufacturers to achieve superior performance. Being the premier source for wireless and positioning technologies, we enable you – our automotive customer – to save resources and achieve faster time-to-market.

Automotive focus
Automotive and transportation industries are required to provide today’s connected users with the connectivity features and services they expect from a modern vehicle in order to remain attractive. We understand your business and your needs like no other supplier of wireless and positioning components since we have been at the core of the automotive industry since day one.

Automotive innovation
We have repeatedly improved the driving experience through groundbreaking technological advances. By investing more than 19% of our sales in research and development, we continue to innovate and lead at the same pace.

Automotive Applications

Our complete portfolio of automotive connectivity technologies, including ultra-precise positioning with multi-GNSS and multi-band reception, State Space Representation Real‑Time Kinematic (SSR-RTK) with correction data, 3D Automotive Dead Reckoning (ADR), high-speed cellular, short range radio, and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies enables you to meet your new challenges.

We develop new technologies that help you stay ahead of the game.

Long-term component availability
While it should be a given for any automotive supplier, we cannot stress enough that we adhere to the long life-cycles of your markets. With automotive design cycles of three to four years from concept to mass production, we offer long-term availability to our wireless and positioning components. In many of our cellular and positioning products, we also control the core technology via our own chip designs and therefore do not rely on life-cycle lengths of third party suppliers.

Automotive grade quality
Our products are designed for equipment placed in harsh environmental conditions, especially automotive applications, where a device can be subjected to high levels of electromagnetic interference (EMI), bumps, shocks and vibrations, and temperature extremes. Our automotive grade products are designed for use in automotive, transportation, and other mission critical applications, meet industry standard automotive specifications, and are qualified strictly according to ISO 16949, ISO 26262/ AEC‑Q100.

Customers choose u-blox because we’re highly dependable and competent. In fact, we’re a publicly listed and financially solid company with a strong market presence serving 5200 active customers world-wide. We have full control over the value chain and product roadmap offering you high product quality, excellent reliability, and environmentally friendly solutions. Further, you can rely on highly competent technical and commercial support from 20 world-wide locations.

u-blox has made its name as a dynamic company continuously developing products and processes to maintain a leading market position in the automotive and transport market.


Couresty of u-blox

RPMA (Random Phase Multiple Access) is wireless technology that was developed by Ingenu, the creators of the Machine Network™, the only wireless network designed exclusively for machine to machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The Machine Network is available in over 29 countries around the globe.

What is RPMA?

RPMA is a low‑power wide‑area (LPWA) channel access method that utilizes the unlicensed, globally available 2.4 GHz ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) band. This means that one radio module can serve applications around the world, providing the scale and cost benefits that enable customers to profitably bring IoT solutions to market.

With autonomous adaptation, the Machine Network delivers interference‑free operation and the best performance and reliability in real‑world applications. Ingenu’s patented RPMA technology offers significant advantages to a great variety of IoT applications, such as excellent in‑building range and AES 128‑bit security encryption.

Featuring download speeds of 31 kb/s and upload speeds of 15.6 kb/s, it is ideally suited for the needs of many IoT applications, which rely on technical specs other than data speed to achieve their performance targets. Key features include:

  • Excellent extended in‑building range
  • Low power consumption
  • Stand‑alone broadcast channel for rapid firmware updates
  • Private or public networks

With a Maximum Coupling Loss (MCL) of 167 dB, RPMA performs similarly to Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT) with signals able to reach deep into buildings and underground. It also features battery lifetimes of 10+ years on a single charge, depending on use case. This means it is ideal for devices that need to be positioned in remote locations or difficult‑to‑reach spaces and that are not attached to the power grid.

RPMA has been deployed for the Machine Network, but can also be rolled out as a private network installation. It is highly suitable for regions, where the rollout of 3GPP LPWA technologies is lagging, where cellular coverage is generally weak, or where users would like to exert full control over their network deployments.

The Machine Network also features a stand‑alone broadcast channel for firmware updates. This broadcast channel is not limited by the network’s download speeds, and can deliver critical security patches rapidly to millions of connected devices at the same time.

The u‑blox position in the RPMA eco‑system

u‑blox and Ingenu have formed a strategic partnership, in which u‑blox develops and manufactures modules supporting RPMA technology. u‑blox chose to work with Ingenu because RPMA is similar in performance and reliability to established 3GPP technologies.

Key applications


Smart metering
RPMA is ideal for utility meters because they are often located within buildings or underground. Its extended in‑building range of 167 dB MCL is 27 dB greater than what GSM coverage could provide. Since meters are generally in use for long periods of time, the stand‑alone broadcast channel allows utilities to provide rapid firmware updates as needed to deployed devices.

Oil& gas
RPMA has been successfully deployed in the oil and gas industry for remote industrial control and the monitoring of pipelines. Since oil and gas installations can often be found in remote areas, they benefit greatly from RPMA’s extended range and operators’ ability to create a private network servicing exactly those locations that are needed.

RPMA has the capacity to hand over connections from mobile devices and implementations, making it suitable for asset and personnel tracking. Since it operates in the globally available 2.4 GHz spectrum, it is feasible to use the same tracking device across multiple regions and network installations.

Due to its extended range and low power consumption, RPMA can also be used for land, pollution and precipitation monitoring. Monitoring devices can be deployed even in remote, off‑the‑grid locations, where they can provide locally captured sensor data over long periods of time.

Smart buildings
RPMA can easily provide basic building management functionality, such as HVAC, lighting and access control with its enhanced indoor range.


sara s 200
Size and power optimized RPMA module for the Machine Network™
Power-optimized RPMA module

Super-E technology by u-blox – low power & high performance for wearables

Courtesy of u-blox

Super‑E, developed by u-blox, is short for Super‑Efficient: Super-E is an intelligent power mode that reduces overall power consumption without impacting positioning performance. It uses only the minimal resources required for tracking and maintaining an accurate position, as opposed to the full‑power operation, which always tries to maximize positioning performance.

Super-E technology

Courtesy of u-blox

Manufacturers of portable applications, such as smart wearable watches or trackers, have struggled to find the best balance between size and positioning performance in their products. The resulting products are not small enough and not accurate enough, which has led to a lower‑than‑expected adoption rate.

In response to this need, u‑blox developed the Super‑E positioning technology. Super‑E, short for Super‑Efficient, is an intelligent power mode that reduces overall power consumption without impacting positioning performance. It uses only the minimal resources required for tracking and maintaining an accurate position, as opposed to the full‑power operation, which always tries to maximize positioning performance.

Only when the signals are very weak or very few satellites are visible, is the full‑power scheme activated to maintain positioning performance.

In a real‑life sport watch scenario, Super‑E achieved three times the power saving, while maintaining position and speed accuracy comparable to the traditional u‑blox 1 Hz full power mode.

Super‑E mode is incorporated in a System in Package (SiP) solution that only occupies 20 mm2 and features a complete GNSS system, including TCXO, LNA, SAW filter and filtering elements for easy design‑in into any highly integrated product. Also available in a chip, the Super‑E mode combines low power consumption with high positioning accuracy in a design footprint of less than 30 mm2 (including all necessary components for a portable design).


Targeted applications

Sports  accessories, such as sport and smart watches:
These customers are in need of GNSS reception but with reduced power consumption.
Their solutions integrate many features (e.g. heart rate) within the same low power budget
while using small batteries to make the product smaller.
This is crucial to reach a broader market and audiences that prefer slimmer designs.

People and animal trackers:
When a device goes beyond the geofence, a location update every few minutes is not enough to accurately locate the tracker.
The operator must then keep the system on, which rapidly depletes the battery.
For emergency situations, it is important to have the longest battery life.

Fitness trackers:
With high penetration in the mass market in recent years, these devices are simple,
low cost and slim.
Fitness trackers need GNSS to accurately track workouts in real‑time.
However, they must stay at the same price point and still look slim to remain attractive.

Consumer tag trackers:
Consumer Bluetooth low energy tag devices use a function called “crowd finding GNSS” to locate
moving targets such as dogs and bikes.
This is highly inefficient as it requires other smartphone owners to have the required application
installed on their phone to find the lost asset when passing by. Adding GNSS (+connectivity)
as an “emergency” option for when the device is lost would give peace of mind to its owner.
It is very important that the device remains small (with a small battery) for its adoption and implementation in objects (e.g. keys, wallet, and bike).

Industrial trackers like vehicles:
More and more trackers work with a battery and have a limited power budget for GNSS,
as opposed to traditional vehicle tracking boxes that are connected to the vehicle battery.


Super low power u-blox M8 GNSS chip
Ultra small, super low power u-blox M8 GNSS SiP

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)

Courtesy of u-blox

Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT) is a new way of communicating with “things” that require small amounts of data, over long periods, in hard to reach places.

What is Narrowband IoT?

Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT), also known as LTE Cat NB1, is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology that works virtually anywhere. It connects devices more simply and efficiently on already established mobile networks, and handles small amounts of fairly infrequent 2‑way data, securely and reliably. And the best is, it provides:

  • very low power consumption
  • excellent extended range in buildings and underground
  • easy deployment into existing cellular network architecture
  • network security & reliability
  • lower component cost

nb iot

NB‑IoT meets the challenges
We believe in a wireless future with secure, stable, and robust connectivity. Many potential “connected things” are located in remote or hard to reach areas, at long distances from the next cellular base station or in shielded areas, such as deep within buildings or underground structures. When there is  coverage,  it  is often  poor and requires  the  device  transmitter  to  operate  at  high  power, draining the battery. Additionally, cellular networks are not optimized for applications that only transmit small amounts of infrequent data. Further, the existing cellular standards don’t support power saving capabilities, which makes these standards unsuitable for inexpensive devices that require battery lives of several years.

NB‑IoT will connect many more devices to the Internet of Things and make many new applications a reality. It is optimized for applications that need to communicate small amounts of data over long periods of time. Since it operates in licensed spectrum, it is secure and reliable providing guaranteed quality of service.

Using other cellular air interfaces for a typical NB‑IoT application would be too expensive, as NB‑IoT applications don’t need all their capabilities. NB‑IoT applications focus on low speed, robust data transfer, and an appropriate level of reliability. A low device price also cuts the installation cost and reduces  the risk of theft.

u‑blox – An Early Leader in NB‑IoT Technology
u‑blox has worked with partners around the world to develop, promote and test NB‑IoT:

Future applications

NB‑IoT applications blog post

Smart metering

NB‑IoT is well suited for monitoring gas and water meters, via regular and small data transmissions. Network coverage is a key issue in smart metering rollouts. Meters have a very strong tendency to turn up in difficult locations, such as in cellars, deep underground or in remote rural areas. NB‑IoT has excellent coverage and penetration to address this issue.

Smart cities

NB‑IoT can help local government control street lighting, determine when waste bins need emptying, identify free parking spaces, monitor environmental conditions, and survey the condition of roads.

Smart buildings

NB‑IoT connected sensors can send alerts about building maintenance issues and perform automated tasks, such as light and heat control. NB‑IoT can also act as the backup for the building broadband connection. Some securitysolutions may even use LPWA networks to connect sensors directly to the monitoring system, as this configuration is more difficult for an intruder to disable as well as easier to install and maintain.


NB‑IoT will provide wearable devices with their own long‑range connectivity, which is particularly beneficial for people and animal tracking. Similarly, NB‑IoT can also be used for health monitoring of those suffering from chronic or age‑related conditions.

Agricultural and environmental

NB‑IoT connectivity will offer farmers tracking possibilities, so that a sensor containing a u‑blox NB‑IoT module can send an alert if an animal’s movement is out of the ordinary. Such sensors could be used to monitor the temperature and humidity of soil, and in general to keep track of attributes of land, pollution, noise, rain, etc.

Related Blog posts:


Power-optimized NB-IoT (LTE Cat NB1) modules

u-blox LTE Cat M1

Courtesy of u-blox

LTE Cat M1 is a new cellular technology, specifically designed for the needs of applications targeting the Internet of Things (IoT) or machine‑to‑machine (M2M) communications.

What is LTE Cat M1?

LTE Cat M1 is a low‑power wide‑area (LPWA) air interface that lets you connect IoT and M2M devices with medium data rate requirements (375 kb/s upload and download speeds in half duplex mode). It enables longer battery lifecycles and greater in‑building range, as compared to standard cellular technologies such as 2G, 3G or LTE Cat 1. Key features include:

  • Support of voice functionality via VoLTE
  • Full mobility and in‑vehicle hand‑over
  • Low power consumption
  • Extended in‑building range

lte catm1

Exceeding Expectations

LTE Cat M1 is part of the same 3GPP Release 13 standard that also defined Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT or LTE Cat NB1)– both are LPWA technologies in the licensed spectrum. With uplink and downlink speeds of 375 kb/s in half duplex mode, Cat M1 specifically supports IoT applications with low to medium data rate needs. At these speeds, LTE Cat M1 can deliver remote firmware updates over‑the‑air (FOTA) within reasonable timeframes, making it well‑suited for critical applications running on devices that may be deployed in the field for extended periods of time.

Battery life of up to 10  years on a single charge in some use cases also contributes to lower maintenance costs for deployed devices, even in locations where end devices may not be connected directly to the power grid.

As compared to NB‑IoT, LTE Cat M1 is also ideal for mobile use cases, because it handles hand‑over between cell towers similarly to high speed LTE . For example, if a vehicle moved from point A to point B, crossing several different network cells, a Cat M1 device would behave the same as a cellular phone and never drop the connection. An NB‑IoT device on the contrary, would have to re‑establish a new connection at some point after a new network cell is reached.

Another benefit is the support of voice functionality via VoLTE (voice over LTE), which means it can be used for applications requiring a level of human interaction, such as for certain health and security applications (for example, stay‑in‑place solutions and alarm panels).

u‑blox – An Early Leader in Cat M1 Technology

u‑blox has worked with leading LTE Cat M1 operators to develop Cat M1 modules that meet their network needs.

  • Close collaboration with Verizon Wireless in preparation of their LTE Cat M1 US network launch with SARA‑R4, the world’s smallest LTE Cat M1 module
  • Support of early trials and development of specific product configurations ahead of other MNO Cat M1 network launches

Key applications

lte cat m1

Automotive & transportation

LTE Cat M1 supports full hand‑over between network cells from a moving vehicle and is therefore well‑suited for mobile use cases with low to medium data rate needs, such as vehicle tracking, asset tracking, telematics, fleet management and usage‑based insurance.

Smart metering

Cat M1 is also ideal for monitoring metering and utility applications via regular and small data transmissions. Network coverage is a key issue in smart metering rollouts. Since meters are commonly located inside buildings or basements, Cat M1’s extended range leads to better coverage in hard‑to‑reach areas.

Smart buildings

Cat M1 can easily provide basic building management functionality, such as HVAC, lighting and access control with its enhanced indoor range. Since it is also features voice functionality via VoLTE, it is also well‑suited for critical applications like security systems and alarm panels.

Connected health

Due to its extended in‑building range, voice support and mobility, Cat M1 is also a well‑matched air interface choice for connected health applications, such as outpatient monitoring and stay‑in‑place solutions.

Smart cities

Within smart cities, Cat M1 can meet a variety of needs and effectively control street lighting, determine waste management pickup schedules, identify free parking spaces, monitor environmental conditions, and survey the condition of roads in a matter of milliseconds.


Size-optimized LTE Cat M1/NB1 modules

u-blox LTE Cat 1

Courtesy of u-blox

LTE Cat 1 is a medium speed LTE standard designed for more feature‑rich IoT applications that require higher data speeds.

LTE Cat 1 sits between the high speed LTE categories that are most commonly seen in smartphones and the low speed LTE categories developed specifically for Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine‑to‑Machine (M2M) applications. It is the lowest cost LTE category that still has the required speeds to support data streaming.

Fast LTE categories – LTE Cat 4 and higher – are ideal for mobile broadband applications and have therefore become standard in mobile phones. IoT‑specific categories, such as LTE Cat M1 or Cat NB1 (also known as NB‑IoT), provide much lower data rates, while also providing  optimized long battery life cycles and greater in‑building penetration as required by many IoT applications.

What is LTE Cat 1?
With speeds of 10 Mb/s downlink and 5 Mb/s uplink, LTE Cat 1 is ideal for a vast number of more feature‑rich M2M and IoT applications, including those that require video streaming and voice support. To ensure complete population and geographic coverage as LTE rolls out around the world, most LTE Cat 1 devices also provide 3G and 2G fallback connectivity.

In comparison to high speed 4G LTE categories, such as Cat 4 and greater, LTE Cat 1 provides:

  • Low power consumption with extended idle and sleep modes
  • Less complexity, resulting in a lower cost structure

In comparison to IoT‑specific technologies, such as Cat M1 and NB1, LTE Cat 1 supports:

  • Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in current implementations
  • Data streaming
  • Low latency applications


u‑blox – Leadership in Cat 1 Technology
u‑blox’s LARA‑R3 single‑mode LTE Cat 1 platform is the only cellular module in the market to feature a combination of LTE Cat 1 chipset and GNSS receiver, both developed in‑house.

If 2G or 3G fallback are required in areas with spotty LTE coverage, the u‑blox LARA‑R2 and TOBY‑R2 product series are most suitable and include variants that provide coverage around the world.

Key Applications

Smart metering
Cat 1 is well suited and ideal for monitoring medium bandwidth use cases, such as electricity meters and smart meter gateways. Such meters don’t need LTE Cat 4’s high data speeds of up to 150 Mbps that are designed for consumer mobile video streaming. The amounts of sent data are relatively small, the speed of transmission is not critical and low power operation is desirable, making the Cat 1 a perfect fit.

Smart buildings
Cat 1 technology still has sufficient data speeds for many video surveillance use cases, while also supporting voice services via voice over VoLTE. Many alarm services require a voice connection in case of an emergency and many home surveillance solutions make use of fixed‑position HD cameras connected to the cellular network, which allow people to monitor their homes, belongings and even pets, while they’re away from home.

Already, many basic aspects of a fleet’s vehicle and assets are being monitored using cellular LTE coverage. Parameters of importance include mileage, location, stops, engine usage and hours of service. LTE Cat 1 provides cellular in‑vehicle handover, which means connections aren’t lost in a moving vehicle. Many LTE Cat 1 implementations are multi‑mode and provide 2G or 3G fallback in areas where LTE networks may not be available.

Connected health
While VoLTE is in planning for LTE Cat M1, it is not yet implemented by network operators. LTE Cat 1 however already supports VoLTE in current implementations, making it ideally suited for stay‑in‑place solutions, outpatient monitoring and mobile medical alert systems.



Multi-mode LTE Cat 1 modules with 2G/3G fallback
Single and multi-mode LTE Cat 1 modules with positioning capability
LTE Cat 1 module based on u-blox LTE chipset with built-in GPS receiver