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AT&T to intro embedded IoT SIMs in LTE-M modules in first half of 2019

AT&T will make IoT modules with integrated SIMs available on its LTE-M network in the first half of 2019.

The carrier is working with German internet-of-things (IoT) module manufacturer Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to integrate a next-generation SIM into a chipset by Israeli firm Altair Semiconductor for deployment across licensed low-power wide-area (LPWA) cellular networks.

As it stands, IoT devices come with regular ‘subscriber identity module’ (SIM) cards, like smartphones. Integrated SIMs, embedding the same security and functionality into the module components, will usher in a new chapter for the IoT market by making it easier to deploy devices, said G+D.

“This all-in-one approach will enable modules to power smaller, less costly and more energy-efficient IoT devices – all with the same carrier-grade security of a physical SIM,” it said in a statement.

The project solution integrates G+D’s SIM solution with Altair’s ALT1250 chipset with AT&T’s LTE-M network in the US. G+D said the integrated SIM will be available in the first half of 2019, as AT&T starts roll-out of its parallel NB-IoT network in the US and Mexico.

AT&T said the project will set the template for the broader IoT market, including devices in competitor networks, especially for large-scale IoT deployments on licensed LPWA networks, even as traditional SIMs remain in use for some years.

Cameron Coursey, vice president of IoT solutions at AT&T, commented: “This advance represents the next generation of secure SIM solutions for the IoT. We expect the design to enable wide acceptance by other operators and to become mainstream as the IoT takes off globally.”

Bernd Mueller, head of G+D’s connectivity and devices division, said: “The combination of G+D’s ‘secure SIM operating system’, coupled with AT&T’s leadership in the IoT space and Altair’s ALT1250 chip will pave the way for the accelerated deployment of IoT devices.”

Ilan Reingold, vice president of business development and marketing at Altair, said: “The ALT1250 will include an integrated SIM secured by a hardware element. This will increase the value to our customers and partners by enabling easier and more flexible LTE connectivity without compromising on security.”

But we expect the integrated SIM will make it easier for large-scale global deployments of low-cost asset trackers, smart sensors and more over LPWA networks designed for the IoT.

To meet small size requirements of IoT devices, existing chipset technologies need to compromise on antenna performance. Altair is showcasing a new small antenna technology at MWC Americas this week, which enables the development of miniaturised IoT and wearable devices without sacrificing coverage or performance.

The technology combines an ultra-small antenna from US based Ethertronics with Altair’s ALT1250 dual-mode LTE-M/NB-IoT chipset to reduce the size of cellular wearable devices without sacrificing performance.

“This is aimed at all IoT devices where size is a limiting factor, especially where low frequency (700MHz/800MHz) support is desired. So it could suit small-enterprise IoT wearables as well as consumer wearables, if they are required to be very small,” Altair told Enterprise IoT Insights.

Specifically, Altair identified smart security tags in the industrial IoT space as a market for miniaturised IoT modules, as well smaller consumer devices, including smart watches, sports bands, small tags, trackers, health monitors, smart glasses, smart clothes, jewellery.

ALT1250 is commercially available and shipping. Altair said: “IoT developers and manufacturers can already start to design new devices with this technology, after receiving details and specifications from Altair and Ethertronics.”

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