AT&T expands cellular LPWA options - Mobile World Live

AT&T expands cellular LPWA options

20 JUN 2018

AT&T announced plans to roll out a new NB-IoT network in the US and Mexico, a move it said will add more deployment options to complement the offerings already available on its LTE-M network.

The operator will begin deploying the technology in the US early next year and follow up with a launch in Mexico by the end of 2019. As with its LTE-M rollout, AT&T said the NB-IoT capabilities will be added to its network via software upgrades to its cell sites. A company representative told Mobile World Live (MWL) the US deployment will use its 700MHz, AWS and PCS spectrum.

AT&T hasn’t settled on pricing, but expects to offer monthly plans as well as yearly and multi-year plans similar to those available on LTE-M.

In a statement, Chris Penrose, AT&T’s president of IoT solutions, said the move comes as the operator aims to tap into “global momentum” for low power wide area (LPWA) technologies it’s seen since launching LTE-M in the US and Mexico in 2017.

In September 2017, AT&T told MWL it wasn’t planning to take on NB-IoT until the technology offered differentiation from LTE-M. But GSMA Intelligence IoT analyst Sylwia Kechiche pointed out on Twitter the move makes sense now because “with 2G sunsetted there is a need for low data alternative for IoT”.

Indeed, AT&T said NB-IoT will be ideal for companies looking to meet basic data requirements for smart smoke detectors, parking meters, agricultural sensors, electric meters, industrial monitors, building automation and other simple on-off devices. LTE-M, on the other hand, offers more bandwidth, making it better suited to applications including asset trackers, fleet tracking, smart watches, home appliances, patient monitors and utility meters.

AT&T is in good company pursuing NB-IoT in the US. In February, Verizon revealed plans to launch an NB-IoT network this year and T-Mobile US aims to have a network up and running by the middle of this year.

Satellite operator Dish Networks also laid out plans for an NB-IoT launch, noting it expects to spend between $500 million and $1 billion to build its network over the next two years.


Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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