Sequans backs LTE Cat M with new Monarch chip fueling Verizon partnership

Chipmaker Sequans is jumping on the LTE Cat M bandwagon with Monarch, an LTE Cat M chipset compliant with the 3GPP LTE Release 13 Advanced Pro standard. The company also is expanding its partnership with Gemalto to include LTE Cat M1 and LTE Cat M2 (formerly known as narrowband IoT) to help build the Cat M ecosystem. Sequans said it will begin sampling chips to partners in the second quarter.

This news comes less than two weeks after Sequans teamed with Verizon (NYSE: VZ)  to accelerate LTE Cat M development. The chipmaker and the wireless operator said they are collaborating to accelerate CAT M chipsets and Verizon has committed to CAT M deployments. Sequans CEO Georges Karam told FierceWirelessTech that he believes all U.S. operators are anxious to start deploying LTE Cat M and he expects Cat M trials to begin this year.

LTE Cat M is intended for narrowband LTE applications such as Internet of Things sensors and wearables. The Monarch chip is compatible with both Cat M1 and Cat M2 and can support data rates for Cat M1 of 300 Kbps downlink and 375 Kbps uplink and for Cat M2 of 40 Kbps downlink and 55 Kbps uplink.

According to Karam, the Monarch chipset will allow very efficient spectrum usage for narrowband LTE applications and it will also allow for reduced power consumption making it a suitable chip for devices like wearables that can't be charged frequently. "You can reduce the power consumption to a lever where you can imagine a watch that you only have to charge once per year," Karam said.

Key to LTE Cat M's success is getting the price low enough to encourage all types of IoT device makers to embed wireless modules into their devices.  Karam said that he believes that it's realistic for LTE Cat M module to be priced around $8 per module and with volume that price could drop as low as $6 per module.

But Karam isn't the only wireless executive touting the potential price benefits of LTE Cat M. Earlier this year, Chris Penrose, SVP of AT&T Mobility's IoT Solutions group, told FierceWirelessTech that he believes that less expensive modules are coming thanks to the proliferation of these other versions of LTE. "The goal with narrowband-LTE is the sub-$5 modules," said Chris Penrose, SVP of AT&T Mobility's IoT Solutions group told FierceWirelessTech at the 2016 AT&T Developer Summit in Las Vegas.

 For more:
- See this Sequans release and this release
- See this Gemalto release

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