AT&T has switched on North America’s first LTE-M enabled commercial site, starting a process that it hopes will transform the IoT for years to come.
AT&T has enabled LTE-M technology on its first site in the San Francisco market to support the pilot of its LTE-M low-power wide-area network at its laboratories in San Ramon. The company plans to make the technology widely available across its commercial network throughout 2017.
LTE-M will offer a combination of enhanced coverage and longer battery life with carrier-grade security for a new generation of industries and applications. It will connect a wide variety of IoT services challenged by existing network technology. These include smart utility meters, asset monitoring, vending machines, alarm systems, fleet, heavy equipment, mhealth and wearables.
Key benefits expected from LTE-M include lower costs for modules that connect IoT devices to the LTE network, battery life up to ten years for some enabled IoT devices, and better coverage for IoT devices underground and deep inside buildings.
“We’ve joined with Altair, Ericsson and technology leaders from across the ecosystem to launch the first LTE-M enabled commercial site in North America,” said Chris Penrose, president of IoT for AT&T. “Innovations like LTE-M will bring IoT to more end points than ever before. It’s part of our strategy to offer the widest range of IoT network options to our customers.”
Enterprise customers and technology companies are collaborating on the LTE-M pilot, including:
- Badger Meter – analyse how the LTE-M network, which is dedicated to supporting the IoT, may be used to enhance communications for smart water devices.
- CalAmp – explore how the LTE-M network can help companies more efficiently manage their connected vehicles and assets.
- Capstone Metering – demonstrate how LTE-M can improve smart city sensor technologies. It will look to increase battery life and improve connectivity and sensor monitoring for underground smart water meters.
- Pepsi – examine and test ways sensors can improve the in-store experience with smart vending for thousands of Pepsi products.
- Samsung – evaluate LTE-M to enhance performance for consumers. This may include wearables or other consumer devices.
The pilot will also include products from a contingent of technology providers – Altair, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, Sierra Wireless, Telit, U-Blox, Wistron NeWeb and Xirgo Technologies.
Altair’s ALT-1210 will power the LTE devices and is one of the first chipsets supporting LTE-M connectivity, and the first to enable Cat-M devices on an LTE-M enabled commercial site.
“The Altair ALT-1210 chipset enables the future of IoT today, providing low-cost and low power LTE connectivity for a range of industrial and consumer IoT applications,” said Cameron Coursey, vice president at AT&T. “We are pleased to extend our strategic cooperation with Altair, leveraging our first-to-market LTE-M enabled site.”
The ALT-1210 is already designed into several modules and devices by tier one ODMs and OEMs, and is available for commercial deployments.
“We are very excited to be working with AT&T to enable future advances in the IoT ecosystem and North America’s first Cat-M enabled commercial site,” said Eran Eshed, co-founder of Altair. “Altair has a long history of innovation and first-to-market LTE chipsets; in that sense we find a very synergistic relationship with AT&T.”
The technology is expected to be available to customers outside of the pilot starting next year.
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