AT&T Inc. (T) may have been the first out of the gate to offer businesses an Internet of Things (IoT) wireless data package to accelerate innovation in the burgeoning market of wireless connected devices, but T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) isn’t one to sit idly by, announcing its own IoT packages that marry wireless data and Category 1 modules to help accelerate the market.
Unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, T-Mobile said it’s aiming to solve the pain points for the IoT market. “Like everything they do, the carriers over-complicate the Internet of Things, and that leads to more hassle and cost for customers,” said Doug Chartier, a T-Mobile senior vice president, in a press release. “The wireless industry needs simpler options for IoT to take off, and that’s exactly what we’re delivering.”
T-Mobile: Carriers Complicate Things
According to T-Mobile, in its current form, if a company wants to create an IoT device, they have to buy a wireless module from one company and then purchase a data plan from the carrier—and that’s before the device is even in the market. T-Mobile argues that process stifles innovation in the IoT market, only helping to “line the carriers’ pockets.”
With T-Mobile’s new IoT packages, customers who are developing applications that require a little data can get up to 5MB of data each month for $20 per year per device in the first year and $6 per year per device after that. Unlimited data at 64kbps will cost a device maker $25 a year per device. For a limited time, businesses get $5 off the first year for each device. T-Mobile is throwing in the Cat1 module for free via a bill credit of up to $16 per module.
In October, AT&T announced its own initiative in which it is hawking data plans to developers and businesses to wirelessly connect their IoT projects. With the plans, developers and businesses can purchase a bucket of prepaid data to power up to a thousand devices on the AT&T network. “Making data plans available for developers and innovators lowers the barriers of entry. It lets small players, used to working at the speed of innovation, get their products off the ground and in the hands of customers,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of IoT solutions at AT&T, when the initiative was announced. Developers and companies will be charged $25 for 1GB, $60 for 3GB and $100 for 5GB. The 1GB and 3GB plans are valid for up to 12 months while the 5GB plan is good for 24 months. (See also: AT&T Selling Internet of Things Data Plans.)
The carriers are in a race to move beyond smartphones and have been eyeing the IoT and 5G markets to meet that end. With the IoT market still in the early stages, expectations are high that it will explode into a billion-dollar business, and carriers want to position themselves to lead in that area.
During CES, AT&T announced a further push into IoT, offering businesses a range of professional and consulting services that it says can help device makers speed innovation and lower risks and design, develop and optimize IoT architecture and deploy to manage IoT initiatives. “This is a time when virtually anything can be connected to the Internet. Entirely new experiences and processes never thought possible are now achievable through the IoT. And they can transform entire industries,” said AT&T’s Penrose in a press release. “Sharing our tools, expertise and speedy access to our network can help businesses of all sizes succeed with the IoT.”