As telecoms and network operators await 5G, existing 4G LTE (News - Alert) infrastructures are undergoing improvements that allow them to increase capacity to start providing next generation communication services. The announcement of AT&T (News - Alert)'s launch of its nationwide LTE-M network is going to give organizations developing Internet of Things (IoT) products and services a more efficient infrastructure, which the company says will also extend to Mexico. According to AT&T, the network is going to transform IoT so players in the industry can develop low price modules, increase battery capacity, deliver better coverage, and provide starter kits to engage with developers.
The term LTE-M is an abbreviation for LTE Cat-M1 or Long Term Evolution (4G), category M1. In trying to find a solution to address the need for IoT-only network technology, 3GPP came up with two options LPWAN (Low Power, Wide Area Networks) and NB-IOT (Narrowband IOT), which uses Single Carrier Frequency Division Multiple Access. The aim of these technologies is to drive down the cost and complexity of IoT deployments.
The 3GPP specifications for LTE Cat-M1 are: 10 year battery life on a 5WH battery; device cost comparable to GPRS based IoT devices; extended coverage (> 156 dB MCL (News - Alert)); and variable data rates to increase coverage.
AT&T’s announcement of this nationwide LTE-M network completion ahead of schedule comes even as the technology is continuing to evolve. With this network in place, next generation IoT devices and applications can now be deployed with greater efficiency, reliability and security. The company said that the successful software upgrades to its nationwide 4G LTE network is in part a prelude to 5G and “massive IoT.”
The network was deployed in keeping with global 3GPP standardized technology and licensed spectrum for carrier-grade security, which will also extend to Mexico by the end of 2017. This will create a North American LTE-M footprint covering 400 million people.
“Our nationwide LTE-M deployment is another example of AT&T’s continued investment and leadership in IoT. We can now reach new places and connect new things at a price that’s more affordable than ever before. Our LTE-M starter kit will also spur developers to open the doors to IoT innovation,” said Chris Penrose, President, IoT Solutions, AT&T.
The AT&T LTE-M will deliver longer battery life, better coverage and reduced module size over traditional IoT connectivity. The network deployment will come with a full new suite of rate plans with LTE-M starting for as little as $1.50 per month per device, with discounts for volume, yearly and multi-year plans and commitments.
Edited by Alicia Young