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4G LTE M2M/IoT router offers open Linux SDK

Jul 20, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,618 views

NetComm unveiled a Linux-based 4G wireless router for M2M and IoT, equipped with a Sequans LTE module, a NAMUR sensor input, and remote management software.

The term Machine-to-Machine (M2M) has been around for a lot longer than Internet of Things, but both often describe similar equipment, which communicate with other devices without the necessity of human intervention. NetComm Wireless applies both buzzwords to its “NWL-25” 4G LTE Light Industrial M2M Router, which enables point-to-point or point-to-multi-point WAN connections for applications including primary broadband, video surveillance, retail, payments, and in-vehicle communications.

NWL-25 from both sides
(click images to enlarge)

Although built by NetComm Wireless, the NWL-25 router was announced as a design win by Sequans Communications, which makes the VZ20Q module that powers its 4G communications. The 24 x 17mm, surface-mountable module, which is one of Sequans’s EZLinkLTE modules, operates on LTE bands 4 and 13.

Sequans VZ20Q
(click to enlarge)

Both the VZ20Q and NWL-25 are certified for use on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Other Linux-based 4G LTE routers with M2M support include CalAmp’s LMU-5000LTE, which is instead designed for AT&T’s network.

The VZ20Q module includes an LTE-optimized transceiver, a dual-band RF front-end, LP-DDR SDRAM, embedded boot flash, and VC-TCXO support. Compliant with 3GPP Release 9 and GCF, and supporting major OSes including Linux and Android, the chipset uses a Category 4 Mont Blanc LTE chip with throughput ranging to 150Mbps, says Sequans.

NWL-25 in typical industrial environment
(click image to enlarge)

NetComm’s NWL-25 router incorporates the VZ20Q, as well as a NetComm Linux based ARM9 processor clocked to 450MHz. The device is equipped with 128MB of DDR2 RAM and 256MB flash, half of which is available for users.

There’s no WiFi on the NWL-25, but you get a 10/100 Ethernet port, a micro-USB OTG port, and an RS232/485/422 port, which is said to support external UPS systems. There’s also an I/O block with three multi-purpose analog and digital I/O pins. Internal I/O includes a NAMUR compatible sensor input pin, among other I/O.

NWL-25 connectors and buttons
(click image to enlarge)

The 143 x 107 x 34mm, wall- or DIN-rail mountable device has a wide-range 8-40V DC supply. It offers a 6-way termination block, sleep modes, and support for in-vehicle use, including ignition sense capability (see spec list below). Like the CalAmp 4G router, the NWL-25 supports -30 to 70° C temperatures, and is said to offer shock and vibration resistance, although no details or certifications were listed.

NWL-25 from the top (left) and standard kit accessories
(click images to enlarge)

The NWL-25 features various router services and VPN features, and ships with a carrier-grade remote management package with remote system monitoring, diagnostics, configuration, and over-the-air firmware updates. The “open” NetComm Linux SDK is based on Linux 3.6, and includes ANSI C/Shell and LUA scripting, a package manager, and APIs for the internal runtime database in order to provide full status monitoring.

Specifications listed for the NWL-25 include, but are not limited to:

  • Processor — 450MHz ARM9
  • Memory — 128MB DDR2 RAM; 256MB flash (128MB user available)
  • Cellular:
    • Sequans VZ20Q 4G LTE module for up to 150Mbps up, 50Mbps down
    • LTE band 4 and 13 (Verizon optimized) with multi-band FDD support
    • SIM slot with lockable tray reader, 2FF support, SIM security management
    • 2x LTA SMA connectors for MIMO
    • Profile managed packet data connections
    • NAT Disable for framed route configuration
    • Transparent bridge mode using PPPoE for forwarding Public WAN IP address
    • Automatic and manual cellular band and operator selection
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet with Auto MDIX
  • Other I/O:
    • Micro-USB OTG with 0.5A supply capability
    • RS232/485/422 (DB-9)
    • 3x multi-purpose analog and digital I/O pins
    • NAMUR compatible sensor input pin
    • Analog 0V to 30V input pin
    • Digital input pin (via measurement of voltage above/below threshold)
    • Open collector output pin
  • Other features:
    • Wall- and DIN-rail mount support
    • 7x LEDs
    • Routing services including PPPoE, RIP, VRRP, DDNS, MAC/NET address filtering, and DHCP/DHCP relay
    • VPN services including OpenVPN, PPTP, IPSec, or GRE Tunneling
    • Web-based GUI for remote device management with LWM2M, TR-069, and SNMP support
    • OTA firmware upgrades
  • Power:
    • 8-40V DC
    • Power input and I/O via 6-way termination block
    • Field terminable power input via screw type terminal block
    • 6W minimum consumption via 4-way mini-fit connector
    • Dedicated ignition input on 4-way
    • Vehicle-compatible protection on DC jack
    • Configurable sleep modes
    • Optional AC supply
  • Operating temperature — -30 to 70° C
  • Dimensions — 143 x 107 x 34mm
  • Operating system — NetComm Linux SDK (Linux 3.6) with GPL or LGPL license

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the NWL-25. More information may be found on the NetComm Wireless NWL-25 product page and the Verizon Wireless NWL-25 page.

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