- Here is the announcement
- No multi-year battery life. Usually when an LPWAN technology launches or tries to make waves, it emphasizes the “LP” (low power) part of the acronym. Verizon wisely and tellingly characterizes CAT M1’s battery store like this:
“Verizon maintains a strong leadership position in IoT technology and solutions with a history of firsts, including the first deployment of 4G LTE, LTE Cat 1 and now LTE Cat M1. A game-changer for the industry, Cat M1 is a new class of LTE chipset that is designed for sensors. They require less power, offer extended battery life and support an array of use cases ranging from water meters to asset trackers to consumer electronics.”
If you’ve been in the low power IoT industry for a while, the industry vernacular for talking about “low power” is in terms of years of battery life. So absence of that term “years” confirms what many of us working (and blogging) in this area have known for some time: LTE CAT M1 battery life is at best measured in months and is really more appropriate for fixed use cases where devices have access to mains/AC power. For you folks hoping to use LTE Cat M1 for battery powered use cases, it may be time to look elsewhere. Or if you want to go ahead with a battery powered use case, your customers should be A-OK with frequent battery recharges/replacements.
But I think this is the point where we can stop calling LTE Cat M1 “LPWAN”. Maybe Medium Power WAN? Anyone?
3. Verizon smartly publishes its “best case” pricing per endpoint:
“The” low bandwidth use cases for Cat M1 chipsets demand new types of data plans, including low rate, multi-year plans to match the longer useful life of devices. Cat M1 devices can economically scale on Verizon’s wireless network on data plans that are as low as $2 per month per device, with customized options available for bulk activations and volume purchases.”
No use hiding your pricing — we were all expecting the worst! — and probably good for Verizon to at least test at this level. $2.00 per month gets you 200KB of data — presumably this is going both from the endpoint to gateway as well as vice-versa.
Since LTE Cat M1 is using TCP/IP, which is like the C-3PO of wireless protocols —unnecessarily verbose, using 10x the words necessary to communicate a point — it is conceivable that your 200KB could be flushed in seconds over HTTP, or perhaps in just a message or two per day using something like MQTT or UDP.
Just a hunch, but the $2.00 per month plan might be a “teaser” and they really want to “upsell” you on a richer plan with “more data”:
According to the text quoted above, the low rate is for a multi-year plan — “to match the longer useful life of devices” — so if multiple years is a minimum of two, your minimum subscription investment would appear to be $48, but more likely $72 or even $120.
Then this bit of text caught my eye:
I didn’t call my Verizon rep to talk about the details, but seems like a safe bet that your minimum service commitment per endpoint will be north of $48.00, perhaps much higher.
And we haven’t even seen hardware device pricing yet.
I’ve worked for years in and with telco’s and the byzantine pricing part of their business drives me crazy. I see the fingerprints of Verizon finance all over this, but this is not a pricing plan designed to get lots of developers in the door.
One bit of speculation: there’s an automotive market opportunity being targeted here.
4. Lots of partners
If you read the announcement, you will see a bevy of recognition from brand name silicon and module makers. As you’d expect from Verizon and also a reminder never to underestimate the power carriers have not only as distribution channels but also over their suppliers. All things being equal, carriers should be able to move IoT markets given their place in the ecosystem.
5. Friday announcement
If I were announcing a dramatic entry into the IoT, I would not announce on a Friday. Unless I was lacking confidence (or internal consensus) in what I was launching …
I’ll try to dive in further to this in a subsequent post. But for now, I think this is a significant announcement for the IoT, but probably not for the reasons the cellular community expects. If you were/are a developer advocating LTE Cat M1 as a LPWAN solution, it might be time to expand your portfolio. If you are on the customer side and looking for a battery powered answer to your IoT problem, this is probably not your answer.
If you are interested in LPWAN’s you may want to read what we have to say here and here or at our website. Haystack offers a lightweight, low power, low latency firmware stack that works across LPWAN’s (and LTE Cat M1) in ways TCP/IP or LoRaWAN cannot. So email me if you are in a jam …pat at haystacktechnologies dot com or @patdash7