u-blox improves IoT security with 5G-ready cellular module and chipset for low power wide area IoT applications

u‑blox, provider of positioning and wireless communication technologies for automotive, industrial and consumer markets, announced this week its SARA‑R5 line of LTE‑M and NB‑IoT modules for low power wide area (LPWA) IoT applications, its most advanced, secure and highly integrated cellular product.

The module, built on the u‑blox UBX‑R5 cellular chipset and the u‑blox M8 GNSS receiver chip, offers unmatched end‑to‑end security and long product availability, making it ideal for IoT applications with long‑term device deployments.

The module also features a lightweight and low power pre‑shared key (PSK) management system that is tailored to the needs of IoT applications, along with a comprehensive set of security features.

With mobile network operators announcing their plans to roll out 5G networks, 5G readiness is becoming a key factor in selecting cellular communication modules.

LTE‑M and NB‑IoT are forward‑compatible with 5G networks and, by implementing key LTE‑M and NB‑IoT features from 3GPP Release 14, SARA‑R5 offers customers a smooth transition towards 5G via software upgrades to already deployed devices.

The SARA‑R5 series builds on the new u‑blox UBX‑R5 LTE chipset and the u‑blox M8 GNSS chip, which means that production and product lifetime are not dependent on third party chipmakers. For customers, this translates into long‑term availability, roadmap stability, and technical support down to the silicon level. Core technology ownership enables new features, relevant for positioning, timing, connectivity, and security.  

SARA‑R5 comes in two product variants.

SARA-R5 modules are ideal for devices that transmit critical and confidential information, since technology ownership of the entire value chain ensures implementation of a unique and unclonable hardware root-of-trust that provides foundational security.

With a discrete, hardware-based secure element and a lightweight pre-shared key management system, u-blox offers security that is ideal for IoT applications and includes data encryption and decryption, zero touch provi- sioning, anti-cloning, and secure chip-to-chip communication. SARA-R511M is pre-integrated with the u-blox M8 GNSS receiver and separate GNSS antenna interface, which provides highly reliable, accurate positioning data in parallel to LTE communication.

In addition, the module o ers unique hybrid positioning, in which the GNSS position is enhanced with u-blox CellLocate data, providing location always and everywhere. SARA-R510M has been optimized for extremely low power consumption, using less than 1 μA of current in PSM mode, and is ideal for battery-powered applications.

Featuring a built‑in u‑blox M8 GNSS receiver, SARA‑R511M targets mobile applications in the automotive, fleet management, tracking and telematics sectors. The GNSS receiver’s chip‑down design includes a dedicated GNSS antenna interface and can run in parallel with the cellular connection. This assures maximum design flexibility, while preserving overall system power consumption.

The second product variant, SARA‑R510M, is optimized to deliver the lowest achievable power consumption, drawing less than 1 microampere of current in power save mode, making it ideal for metering, smart city, connected health, security and surveillance, remote monitoring and other battery‑powered applications.

“SARA‑R5 sets a new benchmark for IoT connectivity,” says Andreas Thiel, head of product centers at u‑blox. “By integrating a hardware‑based Root of Trust in a discrete secure element within the UBX‑R5 chipset, we are paving the way for robust secure communication from the chip all the way to the cloud. The secure element is compliant with EAL5+ High common criteria certification, which makes SARA‑R5 ideally suited to protect sensitive assets and communications.”

“The SARA‑R5 is the first module in our portfolio designed to enable value‑added services and features that can be remotely activated at any time on already deployed devices,” Thiel added. “The modules are also u‑blox’s first with integrated eSIM capability, offering SIM activation and subscription management options to our customers.”

“Kudelski and u‑blox are making IoT simple and secure for anyone that adopts SARA‑R5,” said Jean‑Michel Puiatti, SVP IoT Security at Kudelski Group. “By establishing an immutable identity in every module, we lay the foundations for robust protection of the device, data, decisions, commands and actions. This ensures that companies achieve their IoT business objectives and long‑term return on investment with confidence.”

Samples for the SARA‑R5 series will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

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