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Course description

Cellular IoT Fundamentals is a self-paced hands-on online course focusing on learning the essentials of cellular IoT application development using the highly extensible and feature-rich nRF Connect SDK. 

In this course, we will study the cellular technologies LTE-M and NB-IoT. We will examine in-depth the software architecture of a cellular IoT application using Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF91 Series cellular hardware.  

The hands-on exercises in this course will teach you step-by-step how to configure the nRF9160 SiP to establish a cellular link using different technology configurations and connect to the cloud through communication protocols including MQTT and CoAP. In addition to that we will practice using the GNSS receiver inside the nRF91 hardware to obtain geographic coordinates in different schemes. 

By the end of this course, you will learn how to develop firmware for cellular IoT prototypes and build a GPS tracker using the nRF9160 DK or the Thingy:91.  

What you'll learn

Who should enroll in this course?

You should enroll if you are interested in learning more about cellular IoT and want to build a cellular IoT prototype using Nordic Semiconductor’s products. Embedded software engineers, firmware developers, students and makers are all welcome.


  • nRF Connect SDK Fundamentals course
    • (Required) Lesson 1
    • (Recommended) Lesson 2 – Lesson 8
  • Basic knowledge of the C programming language
  • Some experience in developing software for embedded systems

Hardware requirements

  • Any of the following development hardware: nRF9160 DK or Thingy:91
  • A nano SIM card that supports LTE-M or NB-IoT (the nRF9160 DK and Thingy:91 is shipped with an iBasis SIM card)

System requirements

  • A computer running Windows, macOS, or Linux
  • An up-to-date web browser
  • nRF Connect SDK installed on your computer
  • Cellular IoT Fundamentals GitHub repository

Estimated time

An estimate of about eight to ten hours in total is needed to finish this course. The actual time needed to finish the course will highly depend on your technical background and experience. 

Learning objectives

    • Understand the basics of the LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies and the fundamental differences between them
    • Examine the advantages and disadvantages between the two technologies with regard to different applications
    • Understand the two RRC modem modes, and connection states related to the power saving techniques PSM and eDRX
    • Go through the unboxing experience for the nRF91 Series hardware, including updating the modem and application firmware and connecting to nRF Cloud
    • Briefly examine the basics of network programming and socket interface
    • Examine the modem library implementation and communication between the modem and the application
    • Learn how to communicate with the modem, both using  AT commands and the LTE link controller library 
    • Practice through hands-on exercises how to establish an LTE link, both through AT commands and the LTE link controller library
  • Learn how to implement and use the TCP-based protocol MQTT
  • Learn how to implement and use the UDP-based protocol CoAP
  • Understand the advantages and disadvantages to these protocols with regard to different use-cases
  • Practice through hands-on exercise how to utilize both MQTT and CoAP in an application
  • Practice using TLS and DTLS for communication confidentiality, integrity, and authentication
  • Understand GNSS and study common GNSS concepts, like TTFF, NMEA messages and operational modes
  • Examine the GNSS receiver on the nRF9160 SiP and how to interface with it using the GNSS interface
  • Practice through hands-on exercises how to obtain your geographical coordinates, with and without the LTE modem being active by using power saving techniques PSM and eDRX
  • Learn how to take a modem trace from the modem core of the nRF9160 SiP
  • Practice through hands-on exercises how to capture a modem trace and decrypt it using Nordic tools
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