US operator AT&T followed rival Verizon by launching a nationwide LTE-M network, and said it was now turning its attention to Mexico.
As it looks to fuel its internet of things ambitions, AT&T completed deployment of its LTE-M network, which it said was ahead of schedule, almost seven weeks after rival Verizon launched its own offering.
AT&T’s low power wide area (LPWA) network is now live across the US, operating on the company’s 4G LTE network following software upgrades, and “marks another step forward on our path to 5G and massive IoT”, AT&T said in a statement.
The operator added it plans to deploy the LTE-M network across Mexico by the end of the year, which will create a “North American LTE-M footprint covering 400 million people”. The company first spoke of a potential Mexican rollout at CES in January.
LTE-M – also know as category M1 (Cat-M1) – is one of three LPWA technologies licensed by 3GPP. The other technologies are NB-IoT and EC GSM IoT. US operators are particularly keen on LTE-M, though the technology also notably received backing in Europe from Orange and KPN.
AT&T also launched a new suite of rate plans for LTE-M, starting at $1.50 per month per device. LTE-M modules will be available for $7.50, which include a SIM card.
Further discounts will be available for yearly and multi-year plans, added the company.
“Our nationwide LTE-deployment is another example of AT&T’s continued investment and leadership in IoT,” commented Chris Penrose, president of IoT solutions at AT&T.
AT&T’s launch comes on the same week the US’ fourth ranked player Sprint said it plans to complete its own nationwide LTE Cat-1 deployment by end-July, followed by LTE Cat-M in 2018, and then LTE Cat-NB1.
Sprint explained LTE-M comes in different variations, with LTE Cat-1 designed to support IoT applications, while LTE Cat-M1 and -NB1 used to support other applications requiring low power consumption. These include wireless sensors and wearable devices.