Network of Things

AT&T Readies Category M LTE Launch in US and Mexico


Category M is a flavour of LTE optimised for low-cost, low-power cellular connectivity applications. Standardised by 3GPP like the rest of the LTE family of standards, category M is all about enabling a network of connected things. (The "M" indicates the machine-centric intentions of the spec.)

With category M, the LTE specs have been modified to use a fraction of the energy needed by other LTE devices such as phones and tablets. This means connected objects could go as long as 10 years on a single charge. The technology is particularly practical for adding connectivity to generally hard-to-reach places. Furthermore, the standard is engineered to penetrate walls which are up to 8 inches thicker than those that standard cellular signals can penetrate.

Operators are now readying commercial support for the standard by deploying LTE-M networks, hoping to spark rapid commercial growth in the Internet of things.

This week, AT&T announced that it will launch LTE-M coverage in the US by the middle of 2017. The carrier also said it expected to expand coverage to Mexico by the end of the year. The launch follows the successful completion of a pilot started in October 2016 at AT&T Labs in San Ramon, California with several partners.

The LTE-M network has a top speed of about 1 Mbps upstream and downstream, and a range of up to 100 kilometres (60 miles). In the age of HD video streaming, this sounds stingy, but the thin bandwidth is generally sufficient for applications that usually need to transmit only small amounts of data, such as location information or the amount of water registered in a meter.

The headline focus on the Internet of things has been on connecting consumer products such as lights, watches and refrigerators to the Internet. In reality, the more immediate and tangible benefits will be for enterprise uses such as monitoring meters, tracking fleets and cargo, and maintaining machinery. For example, PepsiCo is trialling LTE-M to collect usage data from soda fountains. Consumers can dispense their own blends of drink from these fountains, and PepsiCo uses sensors to keep the fountains stocked and also gain insights into popular blends.

AT&T is one of several mobile operators around the global preparing to add support for LTE-M to their networks. Others include Orange in France and SoftBank in Japan.

Despite all the talk about the Internet of things, without a robust and standardised network infrastructure, the full opportunity will not be realised for lack of economies of scale. LTE-M is expected to be one of the major enabling technologies for connecting things, along with NB-IoT for even smaller data transmissions.

AT&T stated in its latest quarterly report that it already has nearly 32 million connected devices on its network in addition to phones and tablets. It's an impressive number and reflects AT&T's success in connecting cars and creating smart cities. AT&T's IoT machinery is in full gear and the operator is hoping to establish itself as a leader.

This entry was posted on February 16th, 2017 and is filed under Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Posted By Raghu Gopal On February 16th, 2017


Comments
(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
Google rolls out "India first" products in a bid to attract more of the 800 million Indians not yet online https://t.co/vJET4qWCV1
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
RT @BBCSport: Gotta go, there's something in our eye
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
RT @tim: Confirming @techcrunch's scoop, Apple is indeed close to buying Shazam, in what would be among the largest deals for both Apple an…
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
RT @geoffblaber: 20 hour battery life on Windows 10 Devices with Snapdragon is game changing. Transforms usage and utility. #SnapdragonSumm
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
Not of Beats proportions but Shazam a significant buy for Apple. Still amazed Shazam has remained independent for t… https://t.co/if1K9SwZGB
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
@EisenTV @CCSInsight Ah! I thought I said "brief success" :)
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
Alright, who’d win? (Note: that’s a Tree Fu Tom watch on Batman & Spidey’s been hittin the gym badass)
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
With the snow falling what a perfect day to watch both #LIVEVE & #MUNMCI live in #UHD #4K #DolbyAtmos #PL on #SkyQ https://t.co/IMJvGW3TSA
Follow Paolo
Kester Mann
@kimfaura Look forward to it!
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
Unexpected VR skiing experience in an igloo in Paddington! #VR https://t.co/avUeC0hFre
Follow George
Laura Simeonova
RT @CCSInsight: Optimization for artificial intelligence defines competitiveness in mobile chipsets in 2019 and beyond #ccspredicts https:/…
Follow Laura
Katie Taylor
RT @guardianscience: Scientists make first ever attempt at gene editing inside the body https://t.co/e8u0BT9a09
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
Google Rolls Out the Red Carpet in India Internet Giant Optimizes Products for the Subcontinent Th... Read more
Blog Post
Alexa Dons a Suit Alexa for Business Gives Enterprise a Voice Last week, at... Read more
Blog Post
Fast 3D Printing Designs Could Now Be Printed in Minutes Anyone who has prin... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
CCS Insight Predicts 1 Billion Users of 5G by 2023, with More Than Half in China 5G to take off faster than any previous mobile technology ... Read more
More news