Coming off the successful test of a network to support the Internet of Things, AT&T Inc. (T) announced it is gearing up to deploy a LTE-M network around the country in the second quarter of this year, ahead of schedule. The wireless carrier is planning to make its LTE-M network available in Mexico by the end of the year as well. LTE-M is an IoT network that’s currently be used to track the movement of pallets and shipping containers and to power smart beverage fountains and smart water meters.
AT&T said in a news release that it increased the schedule for the nationwide rollout of the IoT network because of a successful pilot it ran at its AT&T Labs in San Ramon, Calif. AT&T turned on the LTE-M network in October for the pilot. “Thanks to the success of our pilot, we’re on track to support LTE-M devices across our commercial network in the U.S. and Mexico ahead of schedule,” said Chris Penrose, AT&T’s president for Internet of Things Solutions, in the new release. “We’re seeing real momentum for LTE-M that will let us connect more end points than ever before. And we can do it at a lower cost with superior performance and carrier-grade security.”
AT&T Wants to Be Big Player in IoT
AT&T said a slew of companies are already using its IoT network, including Capstone Metering, RM2, PepsiCo, Samsung, Xirgo Technologies, CalAmp and Telular. Capstone Metering is using it for smart water meters while RM2 is using it to track pallets and PepsiCo is using it for so-called smart beverage fountains.
With the market for connected devices expected to explode in the years to come, AT&T wants to ensure its network is there to support it. This isn’t the first foray into the IoT market for AT&T. Earlier this month it announced it is joining forces with International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), Nokia Corp. (NOK), Palo Alto Networks Inc. (PANW), Symantec Corp. (SYMC) and Trustonic, to create a consortium to tackle security issues with IoT devices. Dubbed the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance, the companies are joining forces to research and raise awareness of ways to better secure the IoT segment. According to AT&T, the past three years have seen a 3,198% increase in attackers looking for vulnerabilities in IoT devices. (See also: Legacy Tech Looks Toward an IoT Future.)
In October AT&T started selling data plans for developers and businesses to wirelessly connect their IoT projects. With the plans, developers and businesses can purchase a bucket of prepaid data to power up to 1,000 devices on the AT&T network.