Networking

AT&T targets IoT connectivity with LTE-M network pilot in San Francisco

AT&T recently announced that it would launch its LTE-M network in San Francisco, in hopes of boosting connectivity among Internet of Things devices.

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Image: iStockphoto/jamesteohart

AT&T's new LTE-M network technology trial, announced Wednesday, could enhance connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. According to a press release from the company, an LTE-M pilot will begin in San Francisco, CA in November, and roll out more broadly in 2017.

In terms of what IoT devices it is targeting, AT&T mentioned many tools commonly associated with smart cities and manufacturing. According to the release, "LTE-M technology will connect a wide variety of IoT solutions such as smart utility meters, asset monitoring, vending machines, alarm systems, fleet, heavy equipment, mHealth and wearables."

AT&T claims that LTE-M will make it cheaper connect IoT devices to the network, will improve coverage inside and underground, and could even boost battery life. According to the press release, battery life could get "up to 10 years for certain enabled IoT devices."

SEE: Big data and IoT matter to 56% of organizations (Tech Pro Research)

For those unfamiliar, LTE-M is short for LTE-MTC (machine-type communications). It is optimized for handling the transfer of data between connected machines or devices, and can be easily enabled by carriers.

With the announcement, AT&T listed five partner organizations that will be experimenting with the new network technology during the pilot. Badger Meter and Capstone Metering may use the technology to improve connected water meters, while Capstone Metering will also examine improving smart city sensors overall.

A company called CalAmp will be working on connected vehicle management, while PepsiCo will likely be testing LTE-M with smart vending machines. Samsung will test it with wearables.

"We have pulled together players from across the ecosystem to pilot solutions for a myriad of industries and applications," Chris Penrose, senior vice president of Internet of Things Solutions at AT&T, said in a press release. "LTE-M will provide a unique combination of enhanced coverage and longer battery life with carrier-grade security."

Other partners such as Altair, Qualcomm Technologies, Sierra Wireless, u-blox, Wistron NeWeb Corp., and Xirgo Technologies will also participate in the pilot.

AT&T has been playing more in the IoT space recently, even releasing its own IoT Starter kit back at the Cisco Live event in July.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. AT&T will trial LTE-M connectivity in San Francisco, alongside numerous partners, in hopes of improving IoT device connectivity.
  2. LTE-M could better the battery life of IoT devices, while making it easier for them to connect to a network, and improve their connectivity inside buildings and underground.
  3. The pilot will begin in November, and will be deployed more thoroughly in 2017.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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