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AT&T launches nationwide IoT network

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Two days after Sprint shared its IoT network plans, AT&T said it has launched its Category M1 LTE network ahead of schedule. The carrier said it was able to deploy the technology throughout its network via software updates. AT&T had previously said it would launch Cat M1 LTE by the end of the second quarter.

Category M1 LTE caps upload and download speeds at 1 megabit per second. Because the bandwidth and power requirements are low relative to other LTE categories, Cat M1 chipsets are relatively inexpensive and can operate for long periods of time without recharging. Modem chipsets that support the technology are made by Qualcomm, Sequans and Sony’s Altair Semiconductor, which is a longtime AT&T partner. AT&T said modules that incorporate Cat M1 modems and AT&T SIM cards will sell for as little as $7.50, and will be much smaller than the carrier’s current M2M modules.

AT&T said it will launch new rate plans with LTE-M, with monthly plans starting for as little as $1.50 per month per device. Last year, AT&T became the first U.S. carrier to announce an IoT data plan, but those plans started at $25 per month.

In order to encourage developers to create connected devices for the AT&T network, the carrier has an IoT starter kit. This kit will be upgradeable to Cat M1 through a firmware upgrade, the carrier said.

AT&T is the second U.S. carrier to announce a Category M1 LTE network this year. Verizon activated its network on March 31. Sprint has said it plans to roll out the technology next year, and that this year it will launch Category 1 LTE. Category 1 LTE uses caps download speeds at 10 megabits per second and upload speeds at 5 megabits per second, so the chipsets tend to be larger and more expensive than the Category M1 chipsets.

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