Almost since its inception, the Internet of Things movement has been locked in a constant war over what standards devices should use to communicate with one another. Standards for IoT that have gained popularity and users over the years have run the gamut from short-range analog signals to WiFi-based solutions to standards that use the same cellular network as your phone, albeit with much less power. While many companies are more than happy to continue the war and push for either their own standard or whichever one works best with their devices to win out in the end, overarching figures like carriers and Federal authorities rarely step in. That, however, is exactly what AT&T is doing.
AT&T has announced plans to make use of an LTE standard for IoT connectivity. While AT&T was seemingly all for the possibility of jumping on board with an existing low-power wide area networking standard for IoT back in February, the carrier has since changed its tune and is completely committed to an LTE-based standard. They've chosen to use the low-power LTE Cat-M2 and LTE Cat-M1 as a base, with M1 having much higher power consumption than M2 and being able to hit 1 megabit per second, for most IoT applications in the future. They chose the two standards mainly because they work with AT&T's spectrum offerings, they offer good compatibility and battery power, and they're fairly easy to secure. AT&T's IoT offerings in the future will all use standards based on these two technologies, with few exceptions where existing standards, such as those based on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth will be used.
While committed to an LTE-based IoT ecosystem for most things, AT&T has stated that they would be willing to check into and possibly work with other standards in the face of "strong customer need", though they did not go into full detail on what may constitute such need and what their plans would be if such a situation were to arise. Besides these scenarios, AT&T will be offering up IoT devices on the LTE Cat-M2 and LTE Cat-M1 bands and developing those standards to adapt better to the IoT market. Other standards will still be a part of their business, but the emphasis will be on the two LTE-based standards. Presumably, like carriers have with smartphones over the years, AT&T will be working closely with IoT device makers to ensure compatibility. Tests are set to begin in 2017, with a goal to bring the technology to consumers by 2018.