AT&T's LTE-M network travels through floors and walls, but at the cost of speed
US carrier AT&T announced the completion of its LTE-M network, designed for IoT (Internet of Things) devices. This is good news for anyone looking to enjoy smart home functionality, for their appliances and smart devices will now benefit from a carrier-grade data connection, rather than settling for home Wi-Fi.
There are several differences between LTE-M and regular LTE. For starters, AT&T is charging $1.50/mo per device on an annual basis. That works out to $18 bucks for a year of internet. Alas, this means costs can greatly add up once you add more devices to the network. AT&T knows this and is going to offer discounts and bulk pricing plans to ease customers in.
LTE-M could be the antidote to dodgy home Wi-Fi connectionsLTE-M signal is also more suitable for traveling through walls and floors, important in a household setting. It also has better range and is more power-efficient than regular LTE, but these benefits come at the cost of diminished bandwidth. Supported speeds are up to 384kbps in full-duplex (receive and transmit information simultaneously), or 1Mbps in half-duplex mode (either send, or receive information).
Then again, unlike smartphones, IoT devices aren't such bandwidth hogs, unless you like to watch 4K videos on your smart fridge. For the most part, these devices sync with the cloud and process simple commands, which doesn't take that much traffic.
LTE-M also offers an advantage for device makers in that modules for the technology are about 1/6 the size of ones used in regular LTE technology. This means it can be embedded in devices of many sizes, giving manufacturers design flexibility and more opportunities to innovate.