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Verizon to launch wireless Cat M1 network nationwide to juice IoT

Matt Hamblen | March 31, 2017
Chipsets for Cat M1 low-power devices have dropped drastically in the past year.

Hilton predicted the price of a LPWAN device could be less than $3 per device when produced in high volumes.

Verizon also said the wireless data cost for Cat M1 devices would be as low as $2 a month per device, with custom pricing that could be lower.


Benefits for ThingSpace developers

The Cat M1 nationwide network will likely be tested immediately by some of the 14,000 developers who are building applications and IoT devices on Verizon's ThingSpace platform.

ThingSpace was created in late 2015 to provide tools for IoT developers to create, test, deploy, manage and market IoT apps. At the time that ThingSpace was launched, Verizon hinted it was working on a dedicated network for IoT to avoid the high cost of using regular LTE connections.

ThingSpace was initially made available to developers in 92 countries but has since grown to 175 countries. "It's a one-stop shop," Lanman said.


Better IoT security

With ThingSpace collaboration and connections to Verizon's network, Lanman said developers can build in stronger IoT security to prevent massive cyberattacks like the one in October blamed on the Mirai botnet that targeted unprotected IoT devices.

When a consumer buys an appliance like a washing machine with Verizon's Cat M1 connectivity, Lanman said, the machine can be plugged in and securely authenticated over the Cat M1 network automatically, so the consumer doesn't have to type in a complex 16-digit password. Instead, the consumer will most likely connect to the machine via a simple smartphone app that provides controls and diagnostic information. A major benefit of that approach is that security updates can be automatically updated to the device over the Cat M1 network, Lanman said.

"The Cat M1 chipset finds the network and connects and authenticates with a layer of security you don't find in other networks," Lanman said. "It allows people to manage and update" more easily.

Most of the IoT devices that connect to Cat M1 will be made by companies other than Verizon. However, Verizon has plans to make its own IoT devices and recently announced HumX, an expanded version of its smart car and diagnostics app that also provides a Wi-Fi hotspot and enhanced vehicle location for $15 a month, plus $119 for activation and equipment. That service will use Verizon's 4G LTE network.

Hilton predicted Cat M1 and other forms of LPWAN will be "game changers for IoT by giving large and small enterprises new options for deploying IoT uses."

"Within three years, it is possible that 70% to 80% of carriers' new IoT connections will be LPWAN-based," he said.


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