When it comes to the Internet of Things, there are already a huge number of different standards on the table that are used to connect devices to one another and to their controllers and hubs. Since these standards can be both cellular and WiFi-based, there are also a lot of different players in the field, including wireless providers, tech firms, radio outfits, and a number of other types of businesses. Even the IoT hardware makers get in on the fun in some cases, adding to the fragmentation and confusion. In a move set to help unify their portfolio and make things a bit easier for their customers while gaining them extra ground in the wireless industry at large, Verizon announced on Thursday that they will be joining the fray by deploying LTE Cat M1 by the end of this year.
Cat 1 LTE uses the same technologies as the standard sort of 4G LTE that may be powering the device you're reading this on, but consumes much lower power and delivers far lower speeds by utilizing different spectrum bands. Speeds in the area of 400 to 500 kilobits per second may conjure up memories of early 2000s DSL connections and old 3G dumbphones for some, but for most IoT devices, this is plenty. A smart washer or fridge probably doesn't have much to say, and submitting an order to Amazon via Echo or ordering food via a smart Samsung fridge doesn't take much data, nor does it need to happen at breakneck speed. Likewise, communications between devices inside your home tend to be a few lines of code at most, usually less than 2 kilobytes. This makes those speeds more than adequate for most IoT applications.
Thanks to its ease of use and low cost to build for, maintain, and deploy, Verizon is calling LTE Cat M1 "a game-changer for the industry,". Verizon already has a number of big-name partners in this venture, such as network giants Nokia and Ericsson. With narrow-band IoT standards set to be featured on about 50 percent of all IoT chipsets by 2020 according to analyst firm ABI Research, Verizon is making a big step in future-proofing and torch-bearing by being the first US carrier to deploy the technology commercially.