Monday, May 22, 2017

AT&T introduces national LTE-M network for IoT applications

AT&T announced it has completed the deployment of its nationwide LTE-M network ahead of schedule, providing a network designed to support a new generation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications.

AT&T's LTE-M network is now live across the U.S. on the operator's nationwide 4G LTE network following the completion of software upgrades, and marks a further move towards the provision of 5G and massive IoT. The new network leverages the global, 3GPP standard technology and uses licensed spectrum for carrier-grade security. AT&T stated that it plans to extend the LTE-M network across Mexico by the end of the year to create a North American footprint covering 400 million people.

LTE-M is designed to offer benefits over traditional IoT connectivity options including longer battery life (potentially up to 10 years), enhanced coverage for IoT devices underground and inside buildings, and smaller module size. LTE-M is intended to support large-scale IoT deployments such as smart city services, smart metering, asset tracking, supply chain management, security and personal wearables.

In conjunction with the launch, AT&T is introducing a new suite of rate plans for LTE-M, featuring monthly plans starting from $1.50 per month per device, with discounts available for yearly and multi-year plans and high volume commitments. LTE-M modules will be available from the supplier priced from $7.50 with the SIM card. AT&T noted that this price represents half the cost of the LTE Cat-1 module launched in 2016.

In addition, the company stated that current IoT starter kits with M14A2A modules will be software-upgradeable to LTE-M via a forthcoming firmware update.

  • In March this year, Verizon announced the commercial launch of its national 4G LTE Category M1 (or Cat M1) network covering an area of around 2.4 million square miles. At that time, Verizon stated it would offer multi-year plans for Cat M1 devices, with data plans starting from $2 per month per device.
  • Verizon noted the Cat M1 network was based on a virtualised cloud environment designed to enable rapid and agile IoT solution deployment and nationwide scaling.