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 or you can leave a response.

Posted By Raghu Gopal On February 16th, 2017


Comments
(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
Despite only having a sliver of the US market, @comcast's Xfinity Mobile service delivered a noteworthy performance… https://t.co/0TctMBICl2
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
Want to know what will be the big news at Mobile World Congress 2018? Be sure to follow our analysts at the event a… https://t.co/XvoeGWcT0U
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Coolpad expanding into wearables in US market. Initially kid watches but more products planned after that. Be inter… https://t.co/gjSIa8zITf
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
@Arm launches Kigen family to provide eUICC integrated SIM and ID server for the cellular #IoT world. If we're head… https://t.co/shNCZD21vf
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
RT @nickmcquire: Remember China’s State Council $150BN “New Generation #AI Development Plan” launched in July? Well, it’s advancing... FAST…
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
@geoffblaber Technology can be used in a good way or in a bad way. The question is: who decided what is good and what is bad.
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
RBS hires “digital human” Cora on probation > Another #IBMWatson banking customer with big plans to automate ~50% o… https://t.co/Cj4n69w359
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
Another punchy Sky Mobile bundle including Sony Xperia XA2 & PlayStation 4 for £25/month (and Gran Turismo Sport) https://t.co/AYE1ZBF5Ch
Follow Paolo
Kester Mann
O2 UK follows Vodafone in launching data roll-over on PAYG. Follows tariff refresh earlier this year in face of str… https://t.co/0y50x6pirr
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
Nokia doesn’t "see a path" for its Digital Health business. Very sad development for Withings team who make excelle… https://t.co/BmIEdkg6xM
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
Synthetic biology: Strange medicine https://t.co/OorKQv5nFi via @TheEconomist
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
The First Million Is Always the Hardest Xfinity Mobile Joins the Big Four Carriers in Net Additions ... Read more
Blog Post
Intel's Push to the Edge Xeon D-2100 Brings Data Processing to the Network Edge Inte... Read more
Blog Post
Smart Building Market Gathers Pace in Europe New Forecast Expects Sales of Smart Systems to Triple by 202... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
CCS Insight Forecast Predicts Apple Watch and Hearables to Fuel Growth in Wearables Research firm CCS Insight forecasts 71 million smartwatc... Read more
More news