Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

U-Blox module ready for 3GPP release 14 and 5G

Steve Rogerson
December 6, 2018



A globally configurable NB-IoT module from Swiss company U-Blox is ready for 3GPP release 14 and 5G. The multi-band Sara-N3 is globally configurable for operation under any NB-IoT network.
 
It supports a preliminary set of 3GPP release 14 features (LTE Cat NB2) and is available in two variants, one dedicated to China and another that can operate across multiple bands on any NB-IoT network globally.
 
The uFota firmware-over-the-air client-server system with lightweight M2M (LwM2M) allows the module to be remotely provisioned with additional features. LwM2M is more lightweight than OMA-DM and thereby suitable for providing critical firmware updates to IoT devices.
 
In this way, the module can become 5G compliant. It also supports the creation of dynamic LwM2M objects, giving users high levels of feature customisation through the ability to script their own configurable objects.
 
“With its feature-rich capabilities, the Sara-N3 enables the development of one device across multiple regions for a wide variety of IoT and IIoT applications such as metering, smart city smart city systems, smart homes and industrial trackers,” said Samuele Falcomer, senior product manager at U-Blox. “For customers currently using other methods to send IoT and IIoT data, such as legacy cellular technology, it is simple to upgrade to Sara-N3 through U-Blox nested design and the new features introduced. The product is future-proof, as it can receive further firmware upgrades over the air.”
 
Features and protocols that NB-IoT-based applications will benefit from include TCP, HTTPS, CoAP, DTLS and MQTT. With its low power consumption profile and the ability to configure voltage domains, the module is optimised to operate on a single cell primary battery for more then ten years, eliminating the need for frequent maintenance visits.
 
Other features include a last-gasp function that lets the module send one last message should the power fail unexpectedly and protection against software attacks by detecting potential jamming signals.
 
U-Blox manufactures according to ISO/TS16949 professional grade specifications. This approach incorporates 100% automated x-ray and optical inspections, 100% outgoing test, and product traceability, together with failure analysis and product qualification criteria.