AT&T today struck reciprocal roaming partnerships with three Canadian operators to support it in the realm of internet of things (IoT). AT&T will provide Bell, Rogers and Telus business customers access to AT&T's LTE-M network across the United States. In return, AT&T customers can roam on those Canadian carriers’ national LTE-M networks in Canada.
Bell, Rogers and Telus operate cellular networks that cover most of the 37 million people in Canada. Each have LTE-M up and running across their national 4G LTE networks. In addition to enabling AT&T customers to roam into each of their respective regions in Canada, these reciprocal agreements also enable Bell, Rogers and Telus to expand their LTE-M footprint into the U.S.
LTE-M networks are a type of low-power wide area network radio technology standard developed by the 3GPP to enable a variety of IoT applications and associated IoT devices. LTE-M networks support a broad range of IoT applications, including asset tracking, fleet management, smart sensors, smart city services and municipal water system management.
These IoT networks allow low-power devices such as smart wearables, trackers, and industrial sensors to operate continent-wide in tandem with AT&T.
LTE-M networks operate within licensed spectrum with carrier-grade security and can support firmware and software updates. LTE-M will be compatible with 5G deployments.
"More and more of our enterprise customers are launching IoT applications across international boundaries,” said Chris Penrose, president of Advanced Mobility and Enterprise Solutions at AT&T, in a statement. “Having access to the first North American footprint for LTE-M through these roaming agreements will help them simplify deployments, scale their IoT plans, and put them on the path to 5G.”
AT&T launched LTE-M across the United States in 2017, followed by Mexico. It also launched a nationwide NB-IoT network in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2019, and it expects to begin deployment in Mexico by the end of 2019. The company says NB-IoT is a complementary low-power IoT network to LTE-M.
Rogers also recently launched a NB-IoT network, becoming the first national carrier to light up this network technology in Canada.
AT&T, KPN, Orange and Swisscom activated LTE-M roaming across their respective IoT networks in Europe and North America earlier this year. AT&T says that with its new LTE-M roaming agreements in Canada, its enterprise customers now have access to the largest LTE-M ecosystem in the world.
According to GSMA, LTE-M and NB-IoT networks will have a global footprint around 1.9 billion connections by 2025.