US Cellular has rolled out LTE-M cellular IoT technology across 90% of its national wireless footing and is currently exploring deploying NB-IoT as a possible next step.
The operator is the fifth largest mobile service provider in the United States, operating in 23 states with around 5 million total customers. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have already launched LTE-M and NB-IoT services in the US.
A company spokesperson tells Light Reading that the LTE-M rollout will be completed in the second quarter of this year. LTE-M offers a download rate of up to 1 Mbit/s and supports full mobility and voice communications for machine-to-machine (M2M) networking. It uses more bandwidth (1.4MHz) and battery power than NB-IoT. LTE-M can be used for IoT tasks that require voice commands, such as home security systems.
"The launch of our LTE-M network is going to help us deliver a variety of solutions for existing and potential use cases," the U.S. Cellular spokesperson says.
US Cellular says that it is "exploring NB-IoT" and is "in the process of developing our deployment plans." NB-IoT uses much less bandwidth than LTE-M, typically around 200KHz, and offers a battery life of 10 years and up for compatible devices. NB-IoT use cases include tracking goods, and monitoring water and trash sensors.
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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading