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    IoT IV: Cellular IoT

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    The element14 ESSENTIALS of Cellular IoT covers the basic concepts, terminology, protocols, and operation of Cellular IoT networks. To extend the knowledge covered in the main module, this supplementary guide discusses the types of related components or development boards used for prototyping or product development.

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    Development Boards


    NRF6943 - Nordic Thingy:91

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    The Nordic Semiconductor Thingy:91 is a battery-operated prototyping platform for cellular IoT, certified for global operation. It is ideal for rapid development of prototypes for cellular IoT systems and is especially suited for asset tracking applications and environmental monitoring. It includes a set of sensors to gather data: temperature, humidity, air quality, air pressure, color, and light.  Data can be extracted for local or remote analysis.

    The standard application firmware on the Nordic Thingy:91 extracts the data from the different sensors and relays it securely to the nRF Connect for Cloud, where it is displayed in a user-friendly interface. The firmware supports concurrent operation with LTE Link Monitor, a tool providing an AT command interface enabling link and network testing. The firmware has been developed using the nRF Connect Software Development Kit (SDK). It is open source and can be leveraged and modified to suit your specific needs. The firmware can be updated and debugged by using an external programmer/debugger.

    The Nordic Thingy:91 integrates the nRF9160 System in Package (SiP), supporting LTE-M, NB-IoT and Global Positioning System (GPS), and the nRF52840 System on Chip (SoC), supporting Bluetooth® Low Energy and Near Field Communication (NFC). Source code for firmware, hardware layout, and schematics are all available for free.

    The Nordic Thingy:91 has an antenna supporting GPS, LTE-M, and NB-IoT. It has two antennas connected to the nRF52840: a 2.4 GHz antenna for Bluetooth LE and an NFC antenna. To connect to a cellular network out of the box, the Nordic Thingy:91 has a nano/4FF SIM card slot and is bundled with an eSIM card from iBasis that comes preloaded with 10 MB. A 1400 mAh rechargeable Li-Po battery is also part of this prototyping platform giving a smooth transition into prototype field-testing.


    700-960 MHz + 1710-2200 MHz LTE band support1

    Certifications: CE, FCC

    LTE-M/NB-IoT/GPS, Bluetooth LE and NFC antennas

    Nano/4FF Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card slot

    User-programmable button and RGB LEDs

    Environmental sensor for temperature, humidity, air quality, and air pressure, Color and light sensor

    Low-power and high-G accelerometer


    4 x N-MOS transistor for external DC motors or LEDs

    Rechargeable Li-Po battery with 1400 mAh capacity

    Additional Resources: Product Brief | User Guide | Firmware | Hardware Description FilesModem Firmware and modem DFU tool | nRF Connect SDK | nRF9160 SiP | Getting Started



    NRF9160-DK -  Dev Kit, 32Bit, ARM Cortex-M33

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    The nRF9160 DK is a pre-certified single board development kit for evaluation and development on the nRF9160 SiP for LTE-M and NB-IoT. It has a dedicated LTE-M and NB-IoT antenna that supports a wide range of bands to operate globally. It has a dedicated antenna for GPS and a 2.4 GHz antenna to be used with Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, and ZigBee. SWF RF connectors are available for all antennas. All GPIOs and interfaces are available via connectors. The kit is Arduino Uno Rev3 compatible, meaning it can be easily interfaced with external device shields. User-programmable LEDs (4), buttons (2) and switches (2) are available to easily give input and get output.

    The nRF9160 DK has both a 4FF SIM card slot and an MFF2 SIM footprint, to support both plug-in and soldered (e) SIMs. It is bundled with an eSIM card from iBasis preloaded with 10 MB. Programming and debugging is enabled through the Segger J-Link OB, which also supports external targets. The nRF9160 DK is supported by a full suite of development software and tools. nRF Connect SDK includes everything needed to get started, application layer protocols, examples, peripheral drivers, and more. The kit can easily be connected to Nordic Semiconductor's cloud solution, nRF Connect for Cloud. The LTE Link Monitor tool provides an AT command interface that enables you to test your link, and extract information about the network. Everything is available for download from


    Single board development kit for the nRF9160 SiP

    Bands supported: US: B2, B4, B5, B12, B13, B17, B25, B26, B66, EU/APAC: B3, B8, B20, B28

    Certifications: CE, FCC

    nRF52840 board controller

    Arduino Uno Rev3 compatible

    LTE-M/NB-IoT, GPS and 2.4 GHz antennas

    SWF RF connectors for all antennas

    4FF SIM card slot and MFF2 SIM footprint

    Segger J-Link OB programmer/debugger

    Pins for measuring power consumption

    User-programmable LEDs(4), buttons(2) and switches(2)

    5.5 V supply from battery, external or USB


    nRF9160 SiP

    Multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem

    Pre-certified for global operation

    700 MHz - 2.2 GHz band support

    23 dBm output power

    Assisted GPS

    eDRX and PSM power saving modes

    Coverage enhancement modes

    Single pin 50 Ω antenna interface

    UICC interface



    Board controller

    Bluetooth 5, Bluetooth mesh, Thread and ZigBee

    Arm CryptoCell 310 for application layer security

    64 MHz Arm Cortex-M4F CPU

    1 MB Flash & 256 KB RAM

    Additional Resources: Datasheet | nRF9160 SiP modem firmware | nRF9160 SiP application firmware | Board controller firmware | nRF Connect SDK | nRF Connect for Desktop | nRF Connect for Cloud | nRF9160 certifications





    nRF9160 Low power SiP with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GPS

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    The nRF9160 SiP is a low-power cellular IoT solution, integrating an ARM®Cortex®-M33 processor with advanced security features, a range of peripherals, as well as a complete LTE modem compliant with 3GPP LTE release 13 Cat-M1 and Cat-NB1, and 3GPP LTE release 14 Cat-NB1 and Cat-NB2 standards. The ARM® Cortex-M33 processor is exclusively for user application software, and it offers 1 MB of flash and 256 kB of RAM dedicated to this use. The peripheral set offers a variety of analog and digital functionality enabling single-chip implementation of a wide range of cellular IoT (internet of things) applications. ARM® TrustZone® technology, Cryptocell 310 and supporting blocks for system protection and key management, are embedded to enable advanced security needed for IoT applications. The LTE modem integrates a very flexible transceiver that in hardware supports frequency range from 700 to 2200 MHz (through a single 50 Ω antenna pin), and a baseband processor handling LTE Cat-M1/ NB1/NB2 protocol layers L1-L3 as well as IP upper layers offering secure socket API for the application. The modem is supported by pre-qualified software builds available for free from Nordic Semiconductor. On specific nRF9160 device variants, the LTE modem supports A-GPS operation during sleep intervals in the LTE operation (RRC idle and PSM modes).


    Fully integrated SiP for cellular IoT

    Dedicated application processor and memory

    Multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem with integrated RFFE



    Single variant certified for global operation:




    Designed for true low power cIoT

    10x16x1 mm LGA package

    SIAA (LTE-M only); SIBA (NB-IoT only); and SICA (LTR-E + NB-IoT + GPS)


    LTE-M/NB-IoT modem

    Integrated RFFE

    700-2200 MHz LTE band support

    23 dBm output power


    eDRX and PSM power saving modes

    Coverage enhancement modes

    SMS, IPv4/IPv6


    Single pin 50 Ω antenna interface

    UICC interface


    Application processor

    64 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 CPU

    Arm TrustZone® for trusted execution

    Arm CryptoCell 310 for application layer security

    1 MB Flash & 256 KB RAM

    4 x SPI/UART/TWI

    PDM, I2S, PWM, ADC

    Automated power and clock management

    32 GPIOs

    Additional Resources: Product Brief | nRF Connect SDK | nRF Connect for Desktop | nRF Connect for Cloud | Hardware Integration Guide | Schematics | nRF Connect LTE Link Monitor


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