AT&T has deployed its nationwide LTE-M network intended to support IoT, about a year ahead of schedule, which provides some idea of the faster tempo of network deployment to support both internet of things applications and 5G.
The LTE-M network is live across the United States on AT&T’s 4G LTE network.
AT&T also says it is deploying LTE-M across Mexico by the end of 2017 to create a North American LTE-M footprint covering 400 million people.
LTE-M rate plans start at $1.50 per month per device. Further discounts will be available for yearly and multi-year plans, as well as volume commitments, AT&T says. That pricing illustrates one important facet of IoT connection revenue: it will be far less than connections for human devices such as phones.
LTE-M modules will be available for as low as $7.50 each, including a SIM card. That is half the cost of the LTE Cat-1 module AT&T launched in 2016. That fact also illustrates an ongoing process where mobile operator IoT retail costs plunge. That has been touted as an advantage for specialized IoT networks, but as promised and expected, mobile IoT retail costs are dropping to ranges at least equivalent to those of rival and specialized IoT networks.
At a high level, the specialized IoT networks arguably have a market window before mobile operator IoT networks are ubiquitous. After that happens, many expect advantage to shift to the mobile suppliers, for reasons of scale (marketing, capital resources and relationships).