By Chris Penrose, SVP IoT Solutions
The upgrades at our 4G LTE cell sites across the country are now complete and our NB-IoT network is open for business. This new network will help unlock the next wave of IoT connections. And it’s a big step toward massive IoT and 5G.
With NB-IoT, we now have two complementary Low-Power Wide Area networks – including our LTE-M network in the U.S. and Mexico. Both networks are designed for the IoT within licensed spectrum and provide carrier-grade security.
The devices that ride on these networks can be configured to go dormant when not in use. That opens a host of uses that don’t need constant cellular connections. Think of things like utility meters, leak detectors, street lights and smart appliances.
Having both networks offers our business customers more options to implement IoT solutions with security, interoperability, and lower costs.
NB-IoT is optimized for stationary use cases with basic data requirements like simple sensors, on-off buttons, smart agriculture, smoke detectors, door locks and industrial monitors.
LTE-M, with its greater bandwidth, can support firmware and software updates, mobility and voice-over services. We’ve deployed pet trackers, asset management, medical wearables, utility meters and more over LTE-M.
Both networks connect devices “out of the box” without the complexity of setting up Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. And they reach deep inside buildings and underground.
The big advantages are cost and energy savings. Imagine not needing to replace or charge batteries for up to 10 years and modules the size of a penny.
Take one example.
Bodyport, based in San Francisco, uses our LTE-M network to connect a smart scale that transmits patients’ cardiovascular data to remote care teams in near real-time. This moves medical care from reactive to predictive and hospital to home.
“The network has a very low power consumption for a cellular technology, which enables a long battery life in our devices,” says Corey Centen, CEO and Founder. “The wide indoor penetration enables the scales to connect easily even when they are tucked away deep in an interior bathroom.”
We’re also helping our customers keep their costs in check.
My team is working with our suppliers to certify $5 modules that connect devices to NB-IoT. Multi-mode modules that support both NB-IoT and LTE-M are not far behind. We currently offer pricing plans for as low as $5/year/device.
All of this puts the IoT within reach for businesses who, until now, may not have even thought that connectivity solutions were possible for them.
On the Path to 5G
5G will no doubt enable smart cities, connected agriculture, water management, construction, you name it, in exciting ways we have not seen.
But there’s no need for businesses to wait for 5G to move forward with an IoT solution.
NB-IoT and LTE-M are ready today and designed to support the most common IoT applications. We expect them to be included later this year within global standards for massive IoT for 5G.
Starting now, they have the potential to change the world, opening the door to use cases and applications that weren't practical or possible before.
We’re spurring IoT innovation
NB-IoT and LTE-M are laying the groundwork for these new IoT solutions.
We’re opening up NB-IoT and LTE-M to developers through a collaboration with Arrow Electronics and the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. With software entrepreneur Ray Ozzie, we’re developing Notecard, an integrated IoT module that easily connects IoT products to the cloud with prepaid connectivity.
And our LTE-M Button offers our customers endless possibilities to save time, money and boost customer convenience and satisfaction at the click of a button.
True global access will be a pillar of massive IoT.
We expect to begin deployment of NB-IoT in Mexico later this year. This will be the start of a unique North American footprint as we build out our global capabilities.
The new era of global IoT is unfolding. Now is the time for businesses to seize this opportunity.
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