Could LTE-M technology be the right choice for your city?

This information provided by Smart Cities Council North America.
Wed, 2017-04-26 12:27 -- SCC Partner

As the story below illustrates, it’s nearly impossible to use a one-size-fits-all IoT wireless network to suit all of the applications your city may be using. What works for your smart streetlights, environmental and traffic sensors and other devices may not work as well for some of your other applications. Taking the time to evaluate existing technologies – and those that may soon be available – will go a long way toward ensuring your network is reliable and compatible with your applications. And it may cost less than you’d expect. — Doug Peeples

By Don Johnson, AT&T

IoT wireless networks are evolving to help meet the needs of a wide variety of connected devices—from wearables, cars, and homes to streetlights, parking meters, and industrial automation devices—so they can more seamlessly work together. With such a broad diversity of potential applications, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to bring a one-size-fits-all approach to every situation.

New Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) networks are entering the IoT space as alternative wide area network technologies to short-range networks like Wi-Fi. An important category of LPWA is a mobile operator-managed IoT network based on 3GPP standards for IoT networks. The most commonly identified technology defined within the 3GPP standards for this purpose is LTE-M (also referred to as LTE Cat-M1).  LTE-M operates over dedicated, licensed, and managed spectrum, helping to minimize any risk of the data traffic competing with non-managed devices operating within the same frequency range, as is the case in an unlicensed band.

Less interference means an improved quality of service that’s more dependable.  Additionally, because it is a SIM-based technology, LTE-M delivers carrier-grade, best-in-class security. We plan nationwide deployment of our LTE-M network in the second quarter of 2017 and in Mexico by the end of the year.

In addition, LTE-M has been embraced by a number of international carriers, ensuring a broad base of ecosystem partners, devices and applications for global markets.

Benefits of LTE-M include:

•           Longer battery life: Extended battery life expected up to 10 years for enabled IoT devices.

•           Lower cost of service: Thanks to wide area coverage and the expected high endpoint capacity per cell, connectivity costs are expected to be lower than broadband cellular service.

•           Lower cost hardware: Chipset and module costs are expected to be much lower than traditional cellular modules.

•           Extended coverage: Improved connectivity within subterranean locations like basements and parking structures.

In addition, an LTE-M network offers voice, is fully mobile, and has the throughput for firmware updates over the air. It is an ideal fit for a municipality looking for the best way to connect the growing number of devices at the right cost.  The network may be perfect for use cases like leak detection, smart metering, fleet telematics (buses, rail), asset tracking, and environmental sensors among many others.

At AT&T, we help companies of every size develop IoT solutions to lower costs, gain efficiencies, and improve competitive advantages.

In the push to create the next great IoT solution, it’s not enough simply to connect to the Internet of Things. You need to connect to the type of network that best fits the specific demands of your IoT devices. Success in the IoT marketplace ultimately could depend not on your device or app, but on choosing the right wireless technology, at the right time, to successfully serve a rapidly evolving market.