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Verizon Follows AT&T, T-Mobile, Launches Specialized IoT Network

Internet of Things (IoT)

Verizon just rolled out a key piece of its internet-of-things (IoT) strategy.

The company announced the launch of its Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) Network. The new network is important because it lets users manage non-IP as well as IP traffic. It will allow IoT applications to access “lower cost chipsets, superior coverage and significantly prolonged battery life.”

This network reaches 92 percent of the U.S. population, according to the announcement.

Verizon has already deployed Cat M1 LTE technology on its 4G LTE network, but executives say the NB-IoT provides another connectivity option. While Cat-M1 helps with technologies like wearables and asset management, NB-IoT helps applications with sub-100 kbps data rates. NB-IoT’s frequency is not on the same spectrum as commercial smartphones.

“There is a whole universe of smart solutions needing scalable and affordable connections. By launching our NB-IoT Network, Verizon is taking yet another step in making that connectivity available and driving innovation in the IoT field,” said Jeffrey Dietel, senior vice president of business marketing and products.

Verizon laid out a long list of use cases for the network, including parking sensors for smart cities, connected greenhouse for the agricultural industry and geofencing for asset tracking.

Bill Stone, vice president of technology development and planning, called NB-IoT the “Guard Band” of its spectrum, meaning that it occupies the unused segment of radio spectrum in between two bands.

“By using the more complex Guard Band solution for our Narrowband IoT Network, we are demonstrating very efficient use of spectrum assets while giving customers the breadth of options they need to best meet their needs,” Stone said. “This strategic use of spectrum is one of the many variables that has resulted in Verizon’s continued performance superiority and strong capital management over the years.”

The company said it hopes new and more cost-effective IoT devices arise from today’s announcement. Carl Weinschenk of Telecompetitor wrote that the new network can enable non-mobile devices.

“Carriers are seeking to support the IoT in a number of different ways because different networks may be more appropriate for different use cases,” Weinschenk said. “For instance, Verizon supports NB-IoT on 4G LTE, LTE Cat 1, and LTE Cat M1 networks. ”

T-Mobile launched its NB-IoT network last July. AT&T’s NB-IoT network went live two weeks ago. Sprint said it is testing the technology, but it plans to unite with T-Mobile in the not-too-distant future.

Bijan Nowroozi, chief technology officer and co-founder of Aerietau, regarded the announcement optimistically in a LinkedIn post.

“I am very interested to see the uptake and how this plays out. It’s a very interesting test case in the U.S. for IoT. It’s also a very safe play for [Verizon] as devices are known, the support within their infrastructure eliminates the need for an overlay network and so on,” Nowroozi said.

If you thought you could read through a Verizon IoT article without hearing about 5G, you were sorely mistaken. Companies like Verizon and AT&T frequently link the two technologies. One Verizon exec spoke to us last month about the 5G opportunity for partners.

We wrote last week about the much heralded Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

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