Dutch operator KPN followed rival Orange in revealing support for cellular LTE-M technology for low power wide area networks (LPWA) in Europe after previously backing unlicensed rival LoRa.
In a statement released today, KPN said it “recently” tested LTE-M, along with partners Ericsson and Qualcomm, laying claim to being the first European operator to do so.
European operator Orange also told Mobile World Live in November it was to start testing the technology.
LTE-M is one of three cellular technologies for LPWA networks backed by standards body 3GPP, designed to support internet of things services that only require low data rate capability.
LTE-M in particular has seen larger traction in the US, with leading operators AT&T and Verizon backing the technology, while 3GPP’s NB-IoT has seen stronger support in Europe and Asia in particular.
Like Orange, KPN has so far opted to deploy LoRA technology to support LPWA, which is a non-cellular technology using unlicensed spectrum.
KPN explained the rationale behind its decision to now trial LTE-M, stating the technology “complements” the recently introduced LoRA KPN network, and existing M2M applications.
“Where LoRa focusses on IoT applications with a battery life to 15 years, and speeds up to 50kb/s, LTE-M is particularly suitable for applications between 50kb/s and 1Mb/s, and a battery life of several years, on the basis of frequency communications.”
KPN said that typical use cases for LTE-M are payment terminals, electricity meters and fleet management.
The Dutch operator added it expects LTE-M modules to be available on a larger scale during the course of 2017, with a commercial network launch by the end of 2017.
When revealing its own trial, Orange made similar noises about the complementary nature of 3GPP-based LPWA technology with LoRa, while LTE-M in particular is known for being better at supporting more bandwidth hungry services.