Verizon doubles down on Internet of Things, claims first in Cat 1 LTE

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) these days, announcing the availability of the world's first Cat 1 LTE network features for IoT, as well as new tools for developers through its Thingspace platform.

With the Cat 1 development, Verizon said it is the only carrier offering the value proposition for connecting Cat1 IoT applications on LTE in the U.S. as affordable as alternative technologies. The operator said it's ideal for use cases that were previously developed for 2G.

Earlier this year, Ericsson announced that it was collaborating with Verizon Wireless and chip maker Sequans to test LTE Cat 1 devices and infrastructure using Verizon's LTE network. That trial demonstrated that LTE Cat 1 devices could coexist with high-performing LTE devices. Verizon now says it has chipset platforms certified on its LTE network from not only Sequans but Altair as well. Encore Networks certified the first Cat 1 IoT router solution on Verizon's LTE network earlier this year.

According to Theirry Sender, director of architecture and infrastructure at Verizon, Verizon is the first to move forward with the Cat 1 solution, which is now available nationwide. (Cat 0 and Cat M are coming down the pike but not currently available.) "We're moving aggressively to continue to expand that portfolio" for the IoT devices coming down the pike, he said. "It's very significant because it's the first of the next generation in IoT solutions and it's now fully deployed on Verizon."  

As part of its IoT initiative, Verizon is creating a dedicated IoT network core that will run alongside the LTE network that serves its smartphones, tablets and other devices. "We're all about building the best network for customers' applications," whether those are for smartphones, the enterprise or IoT, he said. "We're always looking at designing and innovating to create the right solution to fit the right application."

"We wholeheartedly believe in that IoT future of the billions of devices and we're getting ahead in terms of preparing to support what we feel is going to be a significant demand from customers," he added. "We are already supporting tens of millions of IoT devices today. We've got hundreds of millions of devices on our network today."

While AT&T (NYSE: T) has been heavily involved in the IoT going back a few years, Verizon's push into the IoT represents a newer strategy. Company representatives said they're creating an ecosystem that will make it easier for developers and expand the entire IoT market.

Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said during the company's third-quarter conference call that new revenue streams from the Internet of things continue to emerge and grow, with revenues of $175 million in the quarter and about $495 million year-to-date, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

With this week's anouncement, everyone from academia to the SMB segment to startups and enterprise are able to leverage Verizon's platform today, Sender said, all designed for developers to more easily work with Verizon's LTE network. "What we've seen is a tremendous amount of friction," because it's been a fragmented environment and fairly complex. "It wasn't in one cohesive environment and what we're doing today with our own space and what we're trying to do with opening this up to the developer community is create a much easier, simpler environment for folks to come in and develop in one space" with other developers and applications, as well as the Verizon set of applications.

Interestingly, the operator recently began an early adopter drone trial with PrecisionHawk, but Sender said that is not an LTE or cellular solution at this time; it also had to go through the usual unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) regulatory approval process. That pilot was deployed at Hahn Estate, a family-owned winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands of California's Monterey County, to capture field data, growth patterns and other information to optimize how crops are treated and ultimately harvested.

Whereas Thingspace was launched in October at Verizon's Innovation Center in San Francisco, its IoT announcement this week came as Verizon hosted an invitation-only conference for developers at its Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass. That conference is expected to be the first of many.

For more:
- see this Verizon release

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Verizon launches ThingSpace to jumpstart the Internet of Things
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