Miniature ALEX-R5 Integrates Cellular and GNSS Technologies - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

Miniature ALEX-R5 Integrates Cellular and GNSS Technologies

The u-blox ALEX-R5, a miniature cellular module, integrates low-power wide-area (LPWA) connectivity and GNSS technology into an ultra-small system-in-package (SiP) form factor. Comprising hardware components designed fully in-house, ALEX-R5 is based on the secure UBX-R5 LTE-M / NB-IoT chipset platform with out-of-the-box Secure Cloud functionality and the u-blox M8 GNSS chip for location accuracy.

ALEX-R5 has a miniature 14×14 mm footprint, functionally equivalent to the larger u-blox SARA-R5 module. Its tiny dimensions make useful for size constrained applications.

The ALEX-R5’s 23 dBm cellular transmission power guarantees that end devices operate effectively in all signal conditions, even at cell edges, underground, or in other challenging scenarios. A dedicated GNSS antenna interface enables fully independent, simultaneous operation of the u-blox M8 GNSS chip, matching the performance of a stand-alone u-blox M8 module. u-blox IoT Location-as-a-Service with CellLocate and AssistNow (online, offline, and autonomous) further enhance positioning performance.

ALEX-R5 is optimized for power-sensitive and battery-dependent applications, addressing common pain points of size-constrained applications such as wearables and connected medical devices. It achieves this by leveraging the lower power modes of the u-blox UBX-R5 and UBX-M8 chipsets and giving users options to further balance power consumption and performance using GNSS Super-E mode.

Its rugged SiP construction makes it fit for harsh environments, where moisture or vibration are a concern. ALEX-R5 is rated at moisture sensitivity level 3 (MSL 3), offering reduced handling and device production complexity.

By bringing all technology building blocks in house and having full hardware and software ownership, u-blox can guarantee long-term device availability and provide lifetime support for the entire platform, down to the chipset level. Secure Cloud functionality supporting IoT-Security-as-a-Service based on an internal, hardware-based secure element enables a lightweight pre-shared key management system specifically designed for LPWA devices.

ALEX-R5 future-proofs IoT devices and solutions by enabling customers to software upgrade deployed devices for compatibility with 5G networks, offering a transition to the next generation of cellular technology as 5G networks are rolled out by mobile operators.

Engineering samples of the ALEX-R5 SiP will be available by Q1, 2021.