Market Insight

LTE-M button among joint IoT solutions from AT&T and AWS

November 30, 2017

Julian Watson Julian Watson Senior Principal Analyst, IoT

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AT&T and AWS have extended their cooperation on IoT with some new solutions announced at AWS re:Invent. The new solutions are:

  • LTE-M button: The two companies are developing a button that works on AT&T’s nationwide LTE-M network and uses the new AWS Click-1 Service. The latter is a service that enables basic IoT devices, such as asset trackers,  badge readers, buttons and motion sensors to trigger AWS Lamba functions to carry out a specific action like calling technical support, reordering goods and services, or locking and unlocking doors and windows. The LTE-M button will be available in early 2018. AT&T will charge a promotional of $29.99 per LTE-M Button for the first 5,000 LTE-M buttons sold and $34.99 thereafter. Connectivity is included in the flat price for 3 years or 1,000 clicks - which ever is the earliest.
  • Certificates on SIM: AT&T is working with G&D Mobile Security to develop a solution that will embed AWS certificates inside SIMs during production, to secure device to cloud connectivity. The keys will be used to encrypt data sessions between the device and AWS services.
  • AT&T IoT OBDII Kit: This service, launching soon, will provide AWS customers with access to the AT&T Asset Management Operations Center (AMOC). AMOC is a packaged solution that enables AWS customers to remotely monitor their equipment, vehicles and enterprise assets via AWS.

Our analysis

The new solutions reflect a further push by AWS into IoT. In so doing, it is working to provide simple set and configuration and enhanced security, two long-standing drag factors to IoT deployments. It is also seeking to keep existing AWS customers “in house” when they deploy IoT through smooth integration of enterprise and developer workflows with other AWS services such as AWS IoT (an IoT application enablement platform), AWS Lambda (a serverless compute service that can run code in response to events), Amazon DynamoDB (a NoSQL database service) and Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), a “push” messaging service that can send out mass notifications to devices.

The LTE-M button, which is based on similar technology to the Amazon Dash button, is an interesting move. One use case could see an engineer at a remote facility pushing the button to request technical support or to report a service status (potentially through voice communications since LTE-M is VoLTE-enabled). LTE-M buttons could also be used to request emergency response from within large sites such as stadiums or campuses.

The decision to include connectivity within the pricing for an extended time is a good one, given the likely relatively low usage (although great convenience) of these devices and the need to build customer interest. The LTE-M button underscores the reality that the IoT is not just about remote access to devices - it's as much also about humans in remote locations or difficult situations getting access to  assistance.

The AWS IoT OBDII Kit appears to address small enterprises with fleets of vehicles that do not have embedded telematics capabilities.  AWS is also looking to the device manufacturer market by enabling the keys and credentials embedded on the SIM to authenticate to AWS IoT: certificates can be managed and updated over the air. The latter market (devices) is potentially a large-scale one. Although unlicensed technologies such as LoRaWAN and Sigfox are likely to gain some of the connectivity opportunity to devices like boilers, air conditioners, water tanks and enable infrastructure monitoring and asset management applications, cellular technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M will play a significant role. For AT&T the extended partnership with AWS will enable it to offer further turnkey device connectivity to (AWS) cloud solutions that address a range of IoT applications across asset management, healthcare, smart cities and vehicles and beyond. At the end of 2016 it had some 30 million IoT connections and currently AT&T has over 15 million connected cars on its network. Partnerships with AWS, vertical solutions providers and device makers among others will enable it to further diversify.

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