T-Mobile has launched Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) service throughout the U.S. According to the company, it is the first to launch NB-IoT in the country and first in the world to launch NB-IoT using LTE guard bands for optimal efficiency. To support the service, the self-named Un-carrier announced a new partner program, T-Mobile CONNECT, to help IoT solution providers collaborate and bring products and services to market on T-Mobile’s network and into the hands of customers more quickly.

T-Mobile’s NB-IoT plan costs just $6 a year — one tenth of Verizon’s Cat-M plans — for up to 12 MB per connected device, and several NB-IoT modules based on Qualcomm’s MDM9206 LTE IoT modem are certified for use on T-Mobile’s network. For applications that require more bandwidth and voice, T-Mobile also offers Cat-1 IoT Access Packs. In addition, the new T-Mobile CONNECT program will help IoT solution providers accelerate the development and commercialization of their products and solutions.

Included in the 3GPP standard, NB-IoT is a low power, wide area network (LPWAN) LTE-Advanced technology that provides a pathway to 5G IoT and offers many comparable benefits like low power consumption, long battery life and low device cost. Using the guard bands — the network equivalent of driving down the shoulders on the highway — T-Mobile uses the spectrum more efficiently, and IoT applications do not compete for network resources with other data traffic.

NB-IoT is ideal for smart applications that track high value assets, optimize utilization of equipment in the field and help ensure safety and compliance in fleet management, waste management, energy utility monitoring and other industrial sectors. In addition to reducing costs and improving efficiency, partners are building IoT solutions that have the potential to alleviate traffic congestion, improve food safety and more.

T-Mobile was first to trial NB-IoT in the U.S. last year, working with Ericsson, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies to deploy the service.

“NB-IoT is the globally-preferred standard to power the rapidly expanding world of IoT applications.” — Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile