HomeCarriersVerizon drops price of Sequans LTE-M/NB-IoT chips to $6.50 for ThingSpace customers

Verizon drops price of Sequans LTE-M/NB-IoT chips to $6.50 for ThingSpace customers

The original Monarch system-in-package (SiP) from French chipmaker Sequans Communications has been made available Verizon’s ThingSpace IoT ‘accelerator programme’ for just $6.50.

The new price point is a significant advance on the magic $10 mark for IoT chips that was breached in the middle of last summer, when the Monarch was offered briefly at the $6.50 price, excluding the $1.50 rebate available on each. It remains a way short of the $1 per unit available on Sigfox modules, however.

But the adoption of cellular internet-of-things (IoT) technologies is not being slowed by the high price of chipsets, but by the complexity of their design, reckons fellow chip supplier Nordic Semiconductor. The falling prices are misleading, it says. The cellular IoT market will not reach doubling targets of 3.5 billion units by 2023 by joining a race-to-the-bottom.

Sequans launched a new version of its Monarch chip platform, combining LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivitym at MWC 2019 in February. The backward-compatible Monarch 2 chip brings a new secure element, a 60-percent boost in power efficiency, higher levels of integration, and lower costs.

But Verizon is stocking the original Monarch, introduced last year, for “qualified customers”, under terms and conditions. The Monarch SiP is jointly marketed and sold by Sequans and US semiconductor firm Skyworks.

Sequans claims the original remains the smallest and thinnest IoT solution on the market. Nick Taluja, vice president of sales at Sequans, said: “This is an incredible price for a connectivity solution that beats all competing solutions available today.

He said: “It is 66 per cent smaller in size, more than 50 per cent thinner, and more than 90 per cent better in low power consumption than its nearest competitor. This remarkable breakthrough connectivity solution, which represents a level of performance unmatched anywhere in the world, was made possible by the very close supply chain collaboration of Sequans and Skyworks.”

The Monarch SiP combines Skyworks’ LTE universal, multi-band RF front-end module with Sequans’ Monarch LTE-M/NB-IoT Platform in a single, ultra-compact SiP. It is designed for deployment on LTE-M and NB-IoT networks anywhere.

The marketing reads: “Monarch SiP achieves a very high level of integration whereby baseband, RF transceiver, power management, RF front-end, RAM memory, and most of the required passives, are integrated into an 8.8 x 10.8 x 0.95 mm package for an industry-leading compact size.”

The Monarch 2 reuses its forebear’s software and architecture, so existing customers can migrate easily. Its embedded EAL5+ secure element (SE), offering UICC technology at chip level, affords the industry’s the “highest, government-grade security level possible”, said Sequans.

Monarch 2 also embeds Sequans Location Engine, which provides indoor and outdoor positioning via GNS, plus a wide range of LTE-based location technologies, giving developers flexibility to select the positioning technology that best fits their requirements for accuracy and cost.

Power consumption shows a 50 per cent improvement in active mode and a 60 per cent improvement in eDRX and idle modes, compared with the industry-leading Monarch, with rock bottom power consumption continuing to lead the industry at 1 micro amp.

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