AT&T-certified Altair chipset upgradable to new Cat-M1 standard

Altair Semiconductor said its FourGee-1160 chipset, which powers the M14A2A IoT module manufactured by Wistron NeWeb Corp. (WNC) that is certified to run on AT&T's (NYSE: T) LTE network, is upgradable via a firmware over the air (FoTA) upgrade to the Cat-M1 standard.

The module supports LTE Cat-1 connectivity now and will support the newer Cat-M1 standard via the upgrade. The CAT-M1 standard is designed to boost module performance for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, offering enhanced coverage and extended battery life.

"This certification will pave the way to providing low-cost and efficient LTE connectivity for a range of industrial and consumer IoT applications," said Cameron Coursey, AT&T's vice president of Product Development for Internet of Things Solutions, in a prepared statement. "The Altair FourGee-1160, with its upgradable capabilities, is an excellent vehicle for moving to CAT-M1 networks."

Back in May, Altair announced that the FourGee-1160 CAT-1 chipset had successfully completed AT&T's ADAPT chipset validation process. That validation came after AT&T's January launch of a new family of LTE modules for IoT devices, including Altair's FourGee-1160 as the engine behind its M14A2A – LTE-Only CAT-1 module. At that time, AT&T said it was introducing a new family of LTE modules to meet the needs of a broad range of IoT applications.

Last week, an AT&T executive told Light Reading that the operator is pushing ahead with an all-LTE future for cellular IoT applications despite earlier suggestions that it might consider other low power wide area (LPWA) specifications.

"We did look at those ... I think the decision that we have made as a company is that AT&T is going to standardize on the LTE stack as opposed to unlicensed bands," Mobeen Khan, AVP of AT&T IoT Solutions at AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions, told Light Reading. AT&T will conduct trials in the fourth quarter on Cat-M1 and expects to test Cat-M2 devices on the network in 2017 and go commercial early in 2018, the publication said.

At the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Shanghai this week, Luigi Licciardi, head of standards and technology disclosure at Telecom Italia, said the industry needs to keep up momentum on the road to commercializing Narrowband (NB)-IoT, insisting that rollout should not be delayed past 2017, Mobile World Live reported. The NB-IoT standard was officially ratified by 3GPP earlier this month.

Licciardi said he had been concerned by talk at Mobile World Congress Shanghai that suggested the launch of the LPWA network for IoT could be pushed to 2018, stating the industry "needs this technology available as soon as possible."

For more:
- see the Altair press release
- see this Mobile World Live article

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