How LTE modem categories effect the performance of your IoT SIM


LTE Modem categories are an important element of your multi network IoT SIM card enabled hardware, LTE Modems selection will have a profound effect on speeds and performance.

Choosing the correct LTE modem is simple when you understand the basic principles.

Let’s keep things simple and call the LTE modem the heartbeat of your IoT hardware. The modem will be a major driver of speed and performance. The higher the modem category the faster and higher performance you get and as general rule, the higher the modem category the higher the cost. So it is just a case of getting what you pay for.

That said, there are some IoT applications which will not need a high specification modem so there is no benefit whatsoever to incurring extra cost on the higher specification models. For example if your solution was transmitting small data packets from areas of good mobile coverage there would be little benefit is using a modem with the performance of a rocket launcher.

On the other hand if your application was transmitting large amounts of data in short bursts you would want the absolute best speeds possible and in this instance probably opt for a higher category modem capable of transmitting the data in a reliable and timely manner.

Here is a brief description of some of the LTE modem categories you will notice form part of your hardware specification and broad examples of the kind of applications that might use them.

  • CAT1 – Low data applications such as sensors and tracking devices.
  • CAT4 – Medium data applications such as monitoring control systems and occasional web browsing.
  • CAT6 – Higher data rate applications like on demand CCTV and regular web-browsing.
  • CAT12 – High data rate applications for example constant CCTV streaming and constant web browsing.
  • CAT20 – The rocket launcher, use if you want the absolute top speeds and performance you can get.
  • CATM & NB-IoT – brand new frequency bands dedicated to lower bandwidth IoT applications, read more in our CATM & NB-IoT article & bear in mind this is a very much and early stage infrastructure.