May 13, 2019

Getting up to Speed on 450MHz

Last modified on June 7, 2022

By Igor Tovberg, Director of Product Marketing

450MHz is a frequency with a rich history that continues to revolutionize the world of cellular connectivity.

Buzz around its latest implementation, with CAT-M and NB-IoT, comes from the availability of such a low-frequency band. The physics of 450MHz offers exciting opportunities by providing long-range support with deep signal penetration. IoT devices, which already operate on low-energy, narrow bandwidth frequencies, stand to benefit most.

So what are the benefits that the 450MHZ spectrum offers for cellular connectivity in general and for specific IoT use cases?

450MHz has strong signal penetration, making it ideal for iapplications such as smart utilities.      

The 450MHz band also provides much better coverage area than higher frequency bands, translating into lower network costs while enabling faster deployment. This makes it ideal for remote agricultural applications.

With its ability to create highly secure and robust networks that can support legacy applications with enhanced features, 450MHz answers the main requirements for public safety applications, such as surveillance systems and emergency response communications devices.      

Low-Band Innovation

This week, I am traveling to Cologne, Germany for the 450 MHz Alliance Bi-annual conference.

We have a lot of exciting topics to discuss. One topic that I am most excited about is the introduction of new products which are enabled by CAT-M and NB. These cellular standards have been designed for IoT and are seen by the 450MHz community as a huge opportunity.

New use cases have been growing and the additional 450Mhz band has been expanded to meet demands. These are in addition to existing LTE B31 deployments.

The ecosystem is ready for massive adoption of devices, pioneered by Altair’s ultra-low power technology for cellular M2M and IoT.

An Unlikely Hero

The 450MHz frequency band, once a low frequency designated towards 2G networks, has been brought back into the LTE and 5G era. Thankfully, it’s giving IoT developers just what they’ve been looking for.

Recognizing the potential of the 450MHz band, Altair is the first company to have developed and demonstrated a chipset that supports CAT-M and NB-IoT technologies at multiple LTE bands including 450MHz.

450Mhz band’s physics is ideal for large area coverage and allows cellular companies to offer a blanket of coverage, demanding less power for IoT devices to remain connected.

Better coverage and deeper penetration allow for deeply buried smart meters, which may be surrounded by concrete made installation compartments, to effortlessly connect to a network without energy draining repetitions.

Industrial Applications

It is no secret that IoT has brought a much welcome revolution of modernization to farming and agriculture. Smart meters, irrigation monitors, and connected tractors are examples of how IoT is changing agribusiness.  For perspective on the economic impact that agriculture plays, Brazil’s agribusiness industry represents 23% of its GDP. Further north, farming contributed over $132 Billion to the United States’ economy (Sources, CAN & USDA).

To keep up with demand, farmers have turned to IoT in order to manage their gigantic fields. With a dedicated bandwidth, ideal for low-energy IoT devices, 450MHz has the potential to cover an enormous expanse of land, monitoring and supporting the smart farms of tomorrow.

In a country such as Brazil, where farmers are quickly embracing an IoT era, the agricultural industry must find a way to monitor operations over millions of acres of agricultural fields. The only practical option is to establish cellular network coverage.

Coverage plays a significant role in CAPEX investment. Simply put, larger capacity bands for agriculture is not economically viable. Coverage is one of the key success factors for agricultural IoT products. 450MHz covers double the area of a 700MHz and over 10 times the area of a 2.6GHz eNB station.

Other Implementations

Stored equipment, Rural power generators, and basement home offices are just a few examples of potential IoT devices that will struggle to connect with a far away cell tower. By offering a dedicated band, which penetrates concrete buildings in addition to deep underground penetration, a new opportunity is presented for cell carriers to simultaneously provide blanket coverage to a massive number of devices.

The potential of IoT goods is endless. From smart metering industries and trackers, to smarter homes and cities, anything is possible with our smallest and ultra low-power ALT1250 Chipset. Now that we have enhanced our chips with 450MHz capabilities, I can’t wait to see what uses this booming market finds for them.

The advantage of LTE over unlicensed LPWA is that mobile providers already have a reliable and proven network in place. By designing devices that will be used on a stable and secure network, companies can develop a range of reliable devices.

The Security of Cellular

Like all Altair products, our Cellular IoT Chipset, ALT1250 has been designed with an extra emphasis on security.

Imagine the horror of a fleet of tractors, or your home security camera being controlled by a hacker. One of the most crucial aspects of the 450MHz band is that it runs on a cellular network. Among the large number of benefits, none are as vital as security.

Our Director of Security Technologies, Avishay Shraga, explains “Combining the security of a cellular network with our chip security, provides HW root of trust for all SW layers in addition to a security foundation for communication and application. With Altair, you have a reliable product that you can count on.”

Bottom line: cellular networks are secure. When you add the security of a cellular network to a semiconductor chip whose hardware was designed with security at its core, you have a product that is reliable where it counts most.

Whether on CAT-M or NB-IoT, a secure chip lets you know that your equipment has layers of protection, thwarting any attempt to gain access to secure information.

Endless Opportunity

450MHz allows for the landscape changes in the field, to reflect the developmental changes of the lab. With a reduced barrier of entry for device makers to access the 450MHz band, there has been an exciting level of innovation for consumer goods as well as industrial uses.

IoT is no longer the Machine to Machine (M2M) dream that it once was. Our smart homes and industries rely on it. (Tweet it!) 

We believe that 450MHz will create new markets within an industry that is evolving to meet the growing needs of consumers.

I am very excited about this event. If you’d like to meet me and the Altair team at the 450MHz Alliance General Assembly, sign up here.

What would you love to see become a “smart” device?