- Austria apparently in LTE-M prep phase.
- Trials underway in Poland, Hungary.
Tucked away in the middle of a blog extolling the virtues of LTE-M, Deutsche Telekom mentioned that pilot networks were underway in Hungary and Poland, and that the tech was “in preparation” in Austria.
Germany and the Netherlands are the Group’s forerunner LTE-M markets, with nationwide coverage recently made available in both countries. LTE-M roaming coverage is nonetheless still confined to France and Belgium through partner Orange (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #95 and #96).
There are still some commercial LTE-M market gaps for Deutsche Telekom to fill in Europe, where it already has a nine-market Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) footprint and has indicated it will overlay LTE-M, to deepen its IoT portfolio. These include Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, and Slovakia.
A game of bridge
The blog, in which LTE-M was strangely referred to as “new” — despite core 3GPP specifications for the technology being completed in March 2016, as part of Release 13 — wheeled out familiar arguments about its usefulness in broadening the addressable market for IoT, and acting as some sort of use-case “bridge” between NB-IoT and ‘massive’ IoT capability based on 5G networks.
Deutsche Telekom pitches NB-IoT as ideal for low-touch use-cases, such as metering, ‘smart-buttons’, and remote monitoring. According to Jens Olejak, Head of New Access Technologies at the operator, LTE-M will “gradually take over” IoT deployments that are currently supported by 2G/3G-based modules.
He added that LTE-M will “bridge the gap between massive and critical IoT”, with applications in consumer electronics, healthcare, smart-home, and wearables. It will sit in the middle of “really simple NB-IoT use-cases with very little data and high-performance use-cases with loads of data [via] LTE and 5G”.
Deutsche Telekom has been flagging preparations for LTE-M rollout since at least 2018, when T-Systems and incubation and innovation arm hub:raum teamed up on an LTE-M Prototyping programme for partners and customers (Deutsche Telekomwatch, #79). Initially, a launch of the technology was planned for mid-2019 across “several” European markets. Commercial rollout still appears confined to Germany and The Netherlands, however.