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AT&T Readies Low-Power LTE for IoT

AT&T has a cat 1 LTE module for low-power LTE applications coming out ahead of CES.

Dan Jones

January 5, 2016

2 Min Read
AT&T Readies Low-Power LTE for IoT

Ahead of CES and its developers conference in Las Vegas, AT&T is introducing low-cost 4G LTE modules aimed at companies wanting to develop wireless products for Internet of Things (IoT) sector.

One module is designed to reduce the energy requirements of the power-hungry 4G radio, addressing one of the more pressing issues involved with using LTE for networking battery-powered devices. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which has worked with Wistron Corp. to develop the modules, says that the snappily named "M14A2A -- LTE Only Category 1" unit sports improved efficiency and battery life for idle devices, compared with other LTE modules.

One of the ways to reduce the power drain on LTE devices is to make the device idle -- or "sleep" -- when it isn't required to transmit data. Networked devices like sensors or networked appliances might not need to send data more than once a day, or even less, so could sleep for the rest of the time, improving battery life. (See CES 2016: 3 Big Tech & TV Trends to Watch.)

Wistron will offer other module options such as the "M14Q2 -- Category 1" and "M18Q2 – Category 3" units, which will offer fallback to 3G networks as well as LTE connectivity. The modules are expected to start at prices of $14.99 each, plus tax, starting in the second quarter.

For more on IoT trends, visit the Internet of Things channel on Light Reading.

AT&T is not the first company to alight on this concept. Startups including Altair Semiconductor , as well as companies such as Sequans Communications , have been talking about category 1 LTE for machine-to-machine communications for a couple of years. The market to deliver radio modules that can be used with other companies' IoT devices is clearly getting hotter as more networked devices come on the market.

Major vendors and carriers are also backing standards work behind developing low-powered LTE-M and ultra-low-powered Narrow-Band LTE (NB-LTE) specifications for IoT applications. NB-LTE testing is expected to start testing this year.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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