Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

AT&T launches NB-IoT network in USA and Mexico

Steve Rogerson
June 26, 2018

AT&T is launching an NB-IoT network in the USA and Mexico for business users to complement its existing LTE-M network.
NB-IoT and LTE-M are low-power wide-area (LPWA) technologies that support massive IoT deployments. Both NB-IoT and LTE-M are supported in the licensed spectrum and with carrier-grade security.
“We’ve seen global momentum for LPWA since launching our North American LTE-M network last year,” said Chris Penrose, president of IoT for 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 USA and Mexico.”
The firm plans to launch NB-IoT in the USA early next year, followed by Mexico by the end of 2019.
The company says its investment in NB-IoT and LTE-M will be future-ready. These technologies are expected to become part of the industry’s massive IoT standards.
NB-IoT and LTE-M offer longer battery life, coverage extension and lower costs than traditional cellular LTE connectivity. NB-IoT is suitable for meeting basic data requirements, while LTE-M provides more robust capabilities including bandwidth for firmware and software updates, mobility and VoLTE (voice over LTE) services.
A key to increasing LPWA adoption is building a broad base of ecosystem partners, devices and applications for global markets. The introduction of NB-IoT and LTE-M dual-mode chipsets and modules means users can support a wide range of applications globally.
Like LTE-M, NB-IoT technology will be deployed through software upgrades at cell sites across the USA and Mexico. Both will operate alongside AT&T’s 4G LTE network and within its mobile 5G network. The 5G network is scheduled to launch in parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas, by the end of this year.
Both NB-IoT and LTE-M have advantages over technologies that operate in unlicensed spectrum. These include greater protections from interference, broader coverage availability and carrier-grade security.
According to the GSMA, 24 mobile operators have commercially launched 48 mobile IoT networks worldwide across both NB-IoT and LTE-M. GSMA forecasts 1.8 billion licensed LPWA connections by 2025.
AT&T switched on North America’s first LTE-M enabled commercial site in 2016 and launched its nationwide LTE-M US network in the second quarter of 2017. Late last year, it launched its LTE-M network in Mexico, establishing the first North American LTE-M footprint.