AT&T stepped up its pursuit of the IoT, announcing new prepaid data plans for developers and businesses and plans for a pilot launch of LTE-M technology in San Francisco later this year.
The three new data plans are aimed at helping smaller developers and businesses looking to tap the burgeoning IoT market. They start at $25 a month for 1 GB that can be used over 12 months and 500 text messages, and top out at $100 for 5 GB valid up to 24 months and 1,500 text messages.
The data can be used to power up to 1,000 devices on AT&T’s network.
“Making data plans available for developers and innovators lowers the barrier to entry,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of AT&T’s IoT Solutions, in a press release. “After these initial plans are deployed, we help them scale their solution beyond a thousand SIMs and provide connectivity as they grow their business.”
The new plans, which will be available later this month, follow July’s launch of a $99 starter kit from AT&T to help developers build IoT offerings. That project is aimed at enabling customers to buy combined technologies from AT&T and IBM in a single build.
While forecasts for the worldwide IoT market vary greatly, analysts agree the burgeoning space is teeming with potential. Gartner predicted in November that 6.4 billion connected devices will be in use by the end of this year, with 20.8 billion such gadgets coming online by 2020. And an IDC forecast pegs the worldwide IoT market at $1.3 trillion in 2019.
The operator also said it will launch LTE-M in San Francisco in November with the aim of launching the technology across its LTE network next year. AT&T said LTE-M will deliver better coverage for IoT devices underground and deep inside buildings; enable battery life of up to 10 years; and be more affordable than current technologies.
The technology is designed to connect devices such as utility meters, vending machines, alarm systems, transportation fleets, industrial equipment and healthcare devices. Participants in the pilot will include PepsiCo, Samsung and Capstone Metering.
Cellular technologies aren’t the only means by which IoT devices will be connected, of course. ON World this week said the market for Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies “are blindsiding existing wireless sensor network technologies,” predicting that the market for LPWAN services will reach $75 billion by 2025.
“After a decade of technology advances such as low power wireless radios, MEMS and cloud platforms, LPWANs represent a new gold rush for Internet of Things investors and developers,” ON World Research Director Mareca Hatler said in a prepared statement. “The simplicity and accessibility of LPWANs is drawing new entrants and innovative IoT services that will contribute billions of dollars to the global economy.”