AT&T to deploy NB-IoT in US and Mexico by 2019

21 June 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

AT&T will launch NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) to complement its existing Long Term Evolution for Machines (LTE-M) network in the US and Mexico by 2019.

Only last year AT&T completed construction of its LTE-M network setting the groundwork for other low-powered, wide area network (LPWAN) technologies to be developed. LTE-M is one of three industry standards for LPWAN with NB-IoT and EC-GSM-IoT being the other two.

"We’ve seen global momentum for LPWA since launching our North American LTE-M network last year," said Chris Penrose, president of IoT solutions at AT&T. "Adding NB-IoT to our portfolio will expand our LPWA capabilities, help drive investment in our evolution to 5G and support our customers as they deploy IoT solutions across the US and Mexico."

Both NB-IoT and LTE-M are supported in licensed spectrum and with carrier-grade security. The US will be the first to receive the new technology, with Mexico following suit by the end of 2019. LTE-M and NB-IoT both deliver longer battery life, extension of network coverage and costs less than traditional mobile LTE connectivity. The two combined offer different benefits to the user, NB-IoT is better suited meet basic data requirements, while LTE-M delivers better capabilities including bandwidth for firmware and software updates, mobility and VoLTE services. Both clear advantages over technologies that operate in unlicensed spectrum which include greater protection from interference, broader coverage availability and carrier-grade security.

Just like LTE-M, NB-IoT technology will be deployed through software upgrades at cell sites across the US and Mexico. Both will operate alongside AT&T’s existing 4G LTE network and within its mobile 5G network. The company also confirmed that its 5G network is scheduled to launch in parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas, by the end of 2018.

The company says that the key to increasing LPWA adoption is to build a broad base of ecosystem partners, devices and applications for global markets. And that the introduction of NB-IoT and LTE-M dual-mode chipsets and modules will enable customers to support a wide range of global applications.

Earlier this year, when deciding on the two standards for low-power IoT, Penrose was quoted as saying: "LPWA networks hold the key to global deployment of IoT devices and applications that will only grow with 5G. Our investment in massive IoT in the US and Mexico marks another step forward on our path to 5G with 3GPP standardised technology and licensed spectrum."

According to figures from the GSMA, 24 mobile operators have commercially launched 48 mobile Internet of Things networks worldwide across both NB-IoT and LTE-M. GSMA predicts 1.8 billion licensed LPWA connections by the year 2025.

Topics: AT&T, NarrowBand Internet of Things, NB-IoT, Long Term Evolution for Machines, LTE-M, US, Mexico, Chris Penrose, 5G