Verizon today is launching what it says is the first nationwide 4G LTE (News - Alert) Category M1 network for the Internet of Things. Cat M1 is designed for sensors and requires less power, allowing for extended battery life of endpoints such as connected asset trackers, consumer electronics devices, and smart water meters.
The carrier says this network covers 2.4 million square miles. And Verizon (News - Alert) is offering data plans as low as $2 per month per device on the new network. In a statement announcing the Cat M1 commercial network launch, Verizon lays claim to being the first to deploy not just LTE Cat M1, but also 4G LTE and LTE Cat 1 before that.
The carrier worked with suppliers Altair, Gemalto, Qualcomm (News - Alert) Technologies, Sequans, Sierra Wireless, Telit, and U-Blox to make the Cat M1 network a reality.
In past interviews with IoT Evolution magazine, Eran Eshed, co-founder and vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Altair Semiconductor, has referred to Cat M1 as the Holy Grail for the cellular IoT industry. That’s because it offers significant enhancements related to such key performance indicators as power consumption and coverage, while lowering the cellular module cost to single-digital figures.
“This announcement is very significant, as it helps clear a lot if the uncertainty associated with Cat M1 commercial network availability,” Eshed told me this morning. “There was never doubt about the level of commitment of Verizon and other carriers which announced support for Cat M1. There was, however, concern in the ecosystem that things might take longer than anticipated.”
“The importance is broader than the announcement itself – proprietary LPWAN supporters have been arguing that the (lack of) availability and maturity of cellular IoT networks provides a long window of opportunity for these competitive technologies,” Eshed continued. “Seems like this window of opportunity for technologies such as Sigfox and LoRA WAN has just shrunk.”
Altair's ALT1210 chipset supports Cat-1 and is software-upgradeable to Cat M1. It became available last year. The company also provides Cat M1 support on its recently announced ALT1250 chip.
There will be approximately 8.4 billion connected things worldwide this year, according to Gartner (News - Alert). And the research firm expects the number of connected things to reach 20.4 billion by 2020.
Edited by Alicia Young