Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

T-Mobile launches NB-IoT asset tracking service

Steve Rogerson
July 23, 2019



T-Mobile has launched what it claims is America’s first NB-IoT asset tracking service following a collaboration with California-based IoT data company Roambee.
 
The service is targeted at airlines, third-party logistics providers, automotive OEMs, retailers, oil and gas companies, construction and industrial manufacturers, food and beverage companies, and SMBs.
 
The carrier will sell the Roambee BeeAware asset tracker on its NB-IoT network in the USA.
 
When a company deploys hundreds, if not thousands, of asset trackers, device and service costs can add up quickly. This service is said to provide an efficient, cost-effective option for nationwide asset tracking.
 
The NB-IoT network provides telecom-grade security, which T-Mobile says has advantages over technologies that operate on unlicensed airwaves such as LoRaWan, Bluetooth LE and RFID.
 
A single truckload of high-value goods may contain hundreds of asset trackers and travel hundreds of kilometres. Battery-life is critical. NB-IoT uses a power saving mode, smaller data payloads and typically longer reporting intervals, all of which translate to lower power consumption.
 
“We’ve hit a sweet spot of value and security with narrowband IoT that we think will really kick-start the growth of the asset tracking segment,” said Mike Katz, executive vice president of T-Mobile for Business. “This is great news for companies that need an asset tracking platform but it also marks a new era for T-Mobile for Business. We’re combining the uncarrier approach, the strength of our sales team and the reach of our nationwide network to deliver unique solutions. Much more to come.”
 
No matter the size, all businesses need to know where their assets are, yet 77% of firms have limited to zero visibility into their supply chains. These businesses may only get shipping updates at key checkpoints along the way leaving long windows between stops for unforeseen delays that can affect delivery times, impact customer satisfaction and increase operational costs.
 
Roambee’s BeeAware asset tracker easily attaches to shipments, pallets or individual assets to provide item-level location and temperature monitoring indoors, in-transit and outdoors, leveraging T-Mobile’s NB-IoT network.
 
“We’re enabling mass market adoption of enterprise asset tracking,” said Sanjay Sharma, CEO of Roambee. “Powered by Roambee’s purposefully built, capex-free sensor technology and asset tracking platform, this eliminates the four biggest barriers to enterprise IoT adoption – high cost, cumbersome setup, constant maintenance and complex data security. Together with T-Mobile’s NB-IoT network and Roambee’s proven solutions that global companies have come to rely on, we’re here to make IoT asset tracking universally deployable on a large scale.”
 
These small data packets are for what NB-IoT was made. Unlike Cat-M, it operates in the shoulder-lane next to the dedicated LTE spectrum so data don’t have to compete with other, larger network traffic. IoT devices on NB-IoT simply don’t need to operate on more intensive LTE networks, and so don’t require expensive batteries.
 
BeeAware data can be accessed with Roambee’s Honeycomb API, which integrates with existing enterprise software to provide a desktop and mobile portal for end-to-end supply chain monitoring, all to help businesses and supply chain managers:

  • Track high-value assets to prevent loss and build stronger chains of evidence;
  • Optimise shipping routes for faster delivery times and lower operational costs;
  • Quickly address delays that could become costly in the future; and
  • Manage risk of theft and degradation of cold chain goods with near real-time status updates.
T-Mobile BeeAware is available for $10 per device per month, which also includes portal access and NB-IoT data.