Bell, Canada's largest communications company, announced it will launch an LTE-M (Long Term Evolution, category M1) network to support the rapidly increasing use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices on low-power, wide-area networks (LPWANs) in Canada.
LTE-M improves the operating efficiency of IoT devices by enabling very low power consumption and better coverage in underground and other hard to reach locations. Bell has successfully completed LTE-M trials and deployments with pilot customers, and will launch its LTE-M network in 2018.
"Bell's leadership in LTE-M technology is another example of our commitment to continued investment and innovation in our networks and the rapidly growing IoT space," said Stephen Howe, Bell's Chief Technology Officer. "LTE-M makes it possible to have many thousands of smart sensors collecting and sending data over a wider range and with better battery life than other connectivity options. We invite developers and partners to join us as we open the doors to new and exciting innovations in IoT."
Bell LTE-M will also play a key role in the Bell MTS Innovations in Agriculture program at the University of Manitoba announced earlier. The unique program will provide students with opportunities to develop innovative IoT technologies for application in agriculture and food science, a critical component of the Manitoba and Canadian economies.
Bell successfully demonstrated its first LTE-M application earlier this year in conjunction with Canadian development partner BeWhere Inc., an Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) solutions company that designs and sells hardware with sensors and software applications to track real-time information on movable assets. The asset tracking and monitoring application for Emergency Management Service (EMS) provides paramedics and other EMS personnel with real-time location of emergency equipment.
"Bell's LTE-M network combined with BeWhere's new beacon and cloud based applications will provide businesses and government organizations a level of operational visibility that was previously unavailable or cost prohibitive," said Owen Moore, CEO of BeWhere. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Bell on these game-changing technologies."
Bell and BeWhere are also testing environmental sensors and asset monitoring devices for an Ontario winery that will provide for years of maintenance-free operation. Similar applications will allow businesses to track the location and conditions of tools, equipment, produce and other goods, and provide government, agriculture and greenhouse operations the ability to cost effectively monitor weather and environmental conditions.
LTE-M will support a broad range of large-scale IoT solutions, including smart city services, smart metering, asset tracking, supply chain management, security and alarm monitoring, transportation and logistics, and personal wearables for healthcare and accessibility applications.