On May 18, 2017, AT&T announced that its U.S. LTE-M network was “live” and had been completed ahead of schedule. LTE-M supports large-scale IoT deployments, such as smart city services, smart metering, asset tracking, supply chain management, security and alarm monitoring and personal wearables.
It is a global standard for low power IoT services that uses the licensed cellular spectrum. LTE-M, or LTE CAT-M1, was defined in 3GPP Release 13 and has peak uplink and downlink data rates of 1 Mbps using a bandwidth of 1.08 MHz. A design goal is for a 5 Wh battery to last 10 years.
To deploy LTE-M, AT&T installed software upgrades to their existing 4G LTE network. In a release, AT&T said their monthly plans for LTE-M begin at $1.50 per month per device, with discounts for yearly and multi-year plans and volume commitments. LTE-M modules will be available for as low as $7.50 each, including a SIM card.
Verizon was the first operator to launch a U.S. LTE-M IoT network, which they announced in April.
By the end of 2017, AT&T plans to deploy LTE-M across Mexico, which will create a North American footprint for AT&T that covers 400 million people.
Chris Penrose, the president of AT&T’s IoT business, said, “We can now reach new places and connect new things at a price that's more affordable than ever before. Our LTE-M starter kit will also spur developers to open the doors to IoT innovation.”