Ahead of 2G shutdown, AT&T testing internet of things on LTE
Using Cat M-1 standard, AT&T looks to cut costs, extend battery for internet of things deployments
Looking to run internet of things traffic on its LTE network, AT&T will begin piloting the use of Cat-M1 tech later this year with an initial project starting in November in San Francisco.
The carrier laid out the benefits:
- Access to low-cost module technology;
- Extended battery life of 10 years or more for enabled IoT devices;
- Enhanced LTE coverage for underground and in-building areas that challenge existing coverage.
LTE Cat-1, which started with Release 8, is defined by 10 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up. LTE Cat-M1, from Release 13, uses 1.4 megahertz of bandwidth with average speeds in 200-300 Kbps range. Cat-M2 further reduces bandwidth requirements to about 200 kHz, and lowers throughput down to the 10 kbps to 30 kbps range.
Working with a few enterprise customers on the pilot project, AT&T said internet of things applications tested will include alarm monitoring, smart meters, vending inventory and remote monitoring of propane tanks.
“Cat-M1 is an advantage for the millions of IoT devices and services coming on the market. We expect this pilot will prove that. This next-generation technology will help businesses gather near real-time information on assets around the world. It will bring a connected world closer to reality,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president, AT&T Internet of Things Solutions. “Following the trial we plan to make Cat-M1 available commercially in 2017.”
AT&T initially announced plans to shut down its 2G network in mid-2012, noting at the time the move would allow the carrier to free-up vital spectrum assets in the 850 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands to support its current HSPA-based 3G and LTE-based services.
The planned shutdown timeframe is January 2017. Earlier this year, we asked an AT&T representative what the transition would mean for IoT customers.
“Since we launched our 2G networks, new technologies such as smartphones, social media and wirelessly connected machines send large amounts of data across our networks. In order to meet this demand, we need to allocate our spectrum as efficiently as possible. IoT customers will be able to significantly improve their applications and solutions (e.g. video cameras for real-time streaming/records for alarm solutions; driver dash cameras for fleet trucks; etc.) because of the higher speeds of the upgraded network, allowing them to better serve their customers and employees. These enhancements would not be possible on the 2G network. The retirement of our 2G network – like our earlier retirement of the analog wireless network – is part of the continuing evolution of AT&T’s network infrastructure.’