With the advent of new narrowband LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies, LTE has become recognized as the low power, wide area (LPWA) technology best suited to support the massive Internet of Things.

No other LPWA technology offers the longevity, reliability, and scalability of LTE and its rapid deployment around the world is driven in large part by its applicability to IoT device design. One of the differences between LTE-M and NB-IoT and earlier LTE definitions is that LTE-M and NB-IoT have been designed to operate in half-duplex FDD (HD-FDD), a transmission mode whereby data is transmitted in a shared channel, one direction at a time, using two different frequencies. This not only simplifies hardware design and lowers cost, but it also enables a smart UE design utilizing programmable frequency tuning, which adds significantly more cost benefit by enabling a single hardware design—a single SKU—to be deployed on any LTE frequency anywhere in the world. The introduction of this single SKU design capability completely removes the legacy cost barrier of having to modify UE design for each of the 30 plus LTE bands needed for worldwide operation.

This single SKU capability is built into Sequans’ Monarch LTE-M/NB-IoT Platform. Monarch is a highly integrated LTE chip designed to support the new low data and low power consumption requirements as specified in the 3GPP Release 13 LTE Advanced Pro standard.1 Monarch’s programmable RF technology (Single SKU™) results in a unique RF front-end that can operate on any frequency band or combination of frequency bands, providing powerful benefits including cost-savings and global compatibility.

This white paper describes how Sequans’ Single-SKU technology works through a design technique that eliminates the need for surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters in the radio front-end architecture. This SAW-less design is described in the sections that follow: section 2 describes a typical LTE front-end and the role of SAW filters; section 3 summarizes the key features of LTE-M and NB-IoT as defined by 3GPP; section 4 describes in detail the SAW-less design technique that enables the Single-SKU capability of Sequans’ Monarch Platform; and section 5 details the key characteristics of Sequans’ Monarch Single-SKU solution and presents an example use case.

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