T-Mobile has made a bid to become a major US Internet of Things player as it starts to go live with its NB-IoT network, offering a $6-a-year rate plan for machines on the new network.
The self-proclaimed "Un-carrier" became the first US operator to launch LTE-based Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) in October 2017 in Las Vegas. It plans to cover its national LTE footprint, which spans 322 million people in the US, with NB-IoT. (See T-Mobile Claims NB-IoT First in the US.)
"For a limited time, T-Mobile's NB-IoT plan is available for $6 per year up to 12MB per connected device," the operator said in a statement Tuesday. "It's ideal for applications that require low bandwidth, long battery life and large numbers of sensors, like asset tracking, smart city applications, smart agriculture and more." (See US Carriers Claim Progress on Different LPWA Paths and T-Mobile's Las Vegas Lessons on NB-IoT.)
T-Mobile US Inc. claims that its new service is "one-tenth" the cost of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s Cat M LTE IoT plans. It is difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison of the plans, however, as Verizon offers a series of tiered plans, priced monthly, some of which can be shared.
T-Mobile says that it currently offers "Cat-1 IoT Access Packs for applications that require more bandwidth and voice" and expects to "launch Cat-M nationwide shortly after NB-IoT is available."
LTE Cat-M offers some different features than NB-IoT does -- at least for the moment -- such as support for voice communications. (See US Carriers Place Bets on Cat M & NB-IoT.)
Nonetheless, T-Mobile's move suggests that the cellular IoT sector, where carriers will need to add huge numbers of IoT devices to generate major profits, will be at least as competitive as the consumer sector.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading