AT&T piloting advanced network technologies for Internet of Things connectivity

AT&T plans to pilot CAT-M1 network technologies later this year to help businesses cut costs and boost device performance for Internet of Things (IoT) deployments. It plans to pilot a Cat-M1 network in the San Francisco market starting in November.

Cat-M1 benefits will deliver access to low-cost module technology; extended battery life of 10 years or more for enabled IoT devices; and enhanced LTE coverage for underground and in-building areas that challenge existing coverage.

Several enterprise customers will take part in the pilot at the AT&T Labs in San Ramon, Calif. They represent a broad range of IoT uses – from alarm monitoring, smart meters, vending inventory and propane tank monitoring.

“Cat-M1 is an advantage for the millions of IoT devices and services coming on the market. We expect this pilot will prove that. This next-generation technology will help businesses gather near real-time information on assets around the world. It will bring a connected world closer to reality,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president, AT&T Internet of Things Solutions. “Following the trial we plan to make Cat-M1 available commercially in 2017.”

Cat-M1 can operate on the existing network footprint and flexibly co-exist with mobile broadband services in the same spectrum. Its design supports next-generation IoT devices such as wearables and utility meters.

Millions of Internet of Things IoT devices are connecting wirelessly and have things to say about virtually everything. From communicating sensor readings and operating parameters to entertainment and health, trusting IoT information to the nation’s most reliable network.

Last month, AT&T unveiled a new set of LTE modules to help businesses lower costs and improve device performance for a broad range of IoT applications. AT&T and Wistron NeWeb Corp. (WNC) developed the M14A2A Cat-1 and M18Q2F Cat-4 modules. AT&T has now certified the modules to run on 4G LTE network.

Data released by analyst firm Frost & Sullivan expects about 9 billion “things”—from connected cars and traffic lights to asset trackers on ships, utility meters and household appliances—now connect to the IoT. The total is expected to rise to between 20 billion and 50 billion by 2020.

“The certification means we can better help our customers attain the easiest and quickest deployment of AT&T’s pioneering LTE Cat-1 service,” said Chun Lee, head of the Global Business Development Division, WNC. “The modules are the perfect solution for IoT connectivity. They are the smallest AT&T-approved Cat-1 modules and offer the most flexibility for compact LTE IoT devices.”

“Based on standardized design, these modules can help drive down the costs of LTE connectivity to help businesses gain competitive advantage through IoT,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president, AT&T Internet of Things Solutions. “Our customers will be able to deploy a wide range of IoT solutions more efficiently and upgrade to Cat-M1. Our Smart Cities, Industrial Enterprises and wearables customers are eager to take advantage of these new capabilities.”

The M14A2A modules will be eligible for firmware updates to LTE Cat-M1 in 2017.  This will be in time for launch of Cat-M1 network specifically built for Low Power Wide Area IoT use. This use extends coverage and reduces battery consumption, as it plans to trial the technology later this year.

The launch of the M14A2A module is the first step in plans to provide feature-rich and efficient solutions to IoT device makers. WNC will issue firmware updates that will support the 3GPP Power Saving Mode. The M14A2A is a single mode LTE Cat-1 module. It’s available from WNC at an exclusive price for AT&T customers of $14.99, plus applicable taxes, while the M18Q2 line of modules are available with options including LTE Cat 1 or Cat 4, 3G fallback and GPS as needed.

IoT Innovator Newsletter

Get the latest updates and industry news in your inbox! Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.