AT&T has partnered with Bell Canada, Rogers Communications and Telus to roam across the combined operators' Cat M 4G cellular IoT networks in North America.
AT&T says the roaming deal creates "the largest LTE-based Cat M footprint in the world." It follows a similar roaming deal AT&T struck in June with KPN, Orange and Swisscom to roam on Cat M in the US and continental Europe. AT&T initially launched its Cat M LTE network in the US two years ago. Its NB-IoT service followed in April 2019.
Cat M is a low-power, wide-area (LPWAN) cellular technology. It does, however, consume more power than LTE-based NB-IoT, with maximum download speeds of 1 Mbit/s for LTE Cat M, versus 284 Kbit/s for NB-IoT. Cat M promises around five years maximum battery life, versus 10-plus years for NB-IoT. Actual battery life for both technologies depends on the how much data each Cat M or NB-IoT device sends out every week, each day or sooner.
Cat M also supports voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) technology for voice communications. This is what makes Cat M suitable for certain wearables, home security systems and other IoT devices rather than NB-IoT.
AT&T hasn't responded yet to a question about how many customers are using its Cat M network yet. We'll update with any details when they do.Related posts:
- AT&T Signs European LTE-M Roaming Deal
- AT&T Pushes Cat M LTE for Cellular IoT in the Americas
- US Carriers Place Bets on Cat M & NB-IoT
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading