Verizon Has New Service Aiming to Connect Smart Devices

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Verizon Communications said it would roll out a new wireless service by the end of the year aimed at connecting low-power, smart devices using a standard known as CAT-M1.

The new standard developed by the telecommunications industry, which runs over standard LTE networks, is meant to take on upstart networks aimed at smart devices that use unlicensed spectrum. Such devices include everything from wearable monitoring devices to vending machines to electricity meters. All require only minimal bandwidth to transmit small amounts of data on a frequent basis.

Verizon (VZ) said it would be the first U.S. carrier to launch CAT-M1 service. AT&T said last month that it will begin piloting CAT-M1 in the San Francisco market starting in November.

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But tech companies outside of the telecom industry are also moving to offer low-cost, low-bandwidth solutions for the Internet of things. SigFox, a French company, has been taking its technology relying on unlicensed airwave frequencies around the world. In May, the company said it would deploy its network in 100 U.S. cities this year.

TheSigFox U.S. network runs in the 900 Mhz band, once commonly used by cordless home phones. That means the company doesn’t need to own the expensive airwave licenses that Verizon and other telecom carriers have acquired over the years.

Verizon said the CAT-M1 offering was meant to head off the threat from such companies.

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“We are also taking direct aim at emerging low power wireless access solutions, which have entered the U.S. market, but do not offer the same level of scale, coverage and security as LTE,” Rosemary McNally, vice president Mobile Devices & OS Technology at Verizon, said in a statement.

The carrier is working with numerous hardware vendors that also support the standard, including Sierra Wireless (SWIR), Gemalto, Nokia (NOK), and Ericsson (ERIC).

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