T-Mobile aims to compete on low prices as it unveils Magenta plan pricing for NB-IoT connectivity.
US telecommunications company T-Mobile has outlined its pricing model for its Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) offering.
The company, the third largest carrier in the US after Verizon and AT&T, revealed Magneta, a narrowband IoT plan that will cost an enterprise $6 a year per device up to 12MB. The company said that this would mean customers would be charged only one-tenth of the cost of rival Verizon’s Cat-M plans.
“NB-IoT is much more affordable than Cat-M and is already the globally preferred standard to power the rapidly expanding world of IoT applications,” the company claimed.
“Because it can operate in guard bands – the network equivalent of driving down the shoulders on the highway – NB-IoT carries data with greater efficiency and performance and doesn’t compete with other data traffic for network resources,” it added.
NB-IoT or LTE-M for operators?
NB-IoT has typically been the more popular choice of low-power, wide area network (LPWAN) for operators in Europe and Asia as it offers advantages over GSM/GPRS.
However, in the US, AT&T and Verizon have both backed LTE-M technology, which also runs on licensed spectrum. Last year, Verizon unveiled the launch of an LTE Cat M1 network, and two months later, AT&T launched its own network and said it planned to deploy LTE-M across Mexico by the end of 2017, creating an LTE-M footprint that would cover 400 million people.
T-Mobile meanwhile, has been focusing all of its energy on NB-IoT technology. Last July, it announced what it claimed was the completion of North America’s first live network tests of NB-IoT in conjunction with equipment manufacturers Qualcomm and Ericsson.
But while each carrier is backing different technologies at this stage, they are keeping their options open. T-Mobile, for example, expects to launch Cat-M nationwide after the NB-IoT project is up and running by the middle of this year, and both Verizon and AT&T are pondering the use of NB-IoT.
Attractive entry price
According to Ian Hughes, senior analyst of Internet of Things (IoT) at IT advisory business 451 Research, the $6 limited-time offer from T-Mobile with its Magenta plan could provide great value.
“It could be considered almost negligible for an initial rollout of low-power, low-bandwidth connectivity, to assets that may be of a much higher value total value,” he said.
“Of course, a high volume of devices needing connectivity makes the bill much larger, but for projects starting to grow out of proof of concept becoming more relied upon, such as in a smart city this does appear much cheaper than 3G/4G tariffs,” he added.
Hughes also suggested that CIOs may be inclined to go with a known telecoms name when sourcing this type of connectivity, even if the telecoms provider is primarily consumed-focused like T-Mobile. This is where Magenta could help rope in some big-company customers. “It is an opening salvo in a developing market,” he said.