Roughly one year after launching its narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network in the U.S., T-Mobile has started offering what it says is the nation’s first NB-IoT asset tracking solution.
T-Mobile for Business partnered with Roambee for its BeeAware asset tracking IoT product, which costs $10 per device per month and includes portal access and NB-IoT data.
The companies say the new offering makes IoT high-value asset tracking deployable on a large scale by eliminating traditional barriers such as high cost, onerous setup and complex data security.
“We’ve hit a sweet spot of value and security with Narrowband IoT that we think will really kickstart the growth of the asset tracking segment,” said Mike Katz, executive vice president of T-Mobile for Business, in a statement.
T-Mobile said NB-IoT provides a cost-effective option for nationwide remote asset tracking for customers like airlines, third-party logistics providers, auto OEMs, retailers, oil and gas companies, industrial manufacturers, and others, who may need to deploy hundreds or thousands of asset trackers.
According to the operator, its NB-IoT network also delivers significant security advantages compared to technologies operating on licensed airwaves like LoRaWAN, BLE and RFID. T-Mobile also pointed to lower power consumption enabled by NB-IoT’s power saving mode, smaller data payloads, and typically longer reporting intervals, which is key for the long-battery life needed for tracked goods that may be traveling hundreds of miles.
The asset tracker provides item-level location data and temperature monitoring indoors, in-transit and outdoors. Data is accessible with Roambee’s Honeycomb API, which the company said provides end-to-end supply chain monitoring.
T-Mobile said small data packets used for asset tracking are primed for NB-IoT. The low-power network operates in the guard band next to the dedicated LTE spectrum, so IoT device data doesn’t need to compete with larger network traffic compared to IoT CAT-M networks.
In July 2018, T-Mobile was the first operator to launch a nationwide NB-IoT network. AT&T’s NB-IoT network went live this year in late April. AT&T previously launched an LTE-M network for IoT in 2017.
Verizon was the latest carrier to delve into the NB-IoT pool, turning on its network nationwide in May. At the time, Verizon claimed its NB-IoT network covered 92% of the U.S population and said it was designed for IoT applications requiring data rates below 100 kbps. Verizon had named Telit, SIM-COM, and Quectel as three module manufacturer partners that were in final stages of testing modules for use on the network.
Verizon already has a nationwide LTE Cat M1 network for IoT, which launched in 2017.
In May, Sprint began testing NB-IoT technology, but the carrier plans to wait to see if there’s enough customer demand before deploying.