Comcast’s machineQ Internet of Things (IoT) business unit is expanding its low-power wide-area (LoRa) network to twelve markets including Miami; Detroit; Atlanta; Boston; Denver; Indianapolis; Washington; Seattle; Pittsburgh; Oakland; Baltimore; and Minneapolis.
machineQ said it selected these cities because of demand, particularly from smart cities initiatives. When the company first announced it was testing LoRa technology in Philadelphia and San Francisco last October, it said that it was going to focus on IoT applications such as utility metering, environmental monitoring, and asset tracking. The company later launched another trial in Chicago.
Comcast said those initial focus areas are still important but it is also gaining traction with companies from a wide-range of industries including health care, public utilities, and automotive.
Last October, Comcast said that if the trials were successful, it would deploy LoRa in an additional 28 markets within the next 18 to 30 months. According to a Comcast spokesman, the company is still committed to expanding its IoT network to 30 markets but said it will build the new markets based upon demand.
Comcast is working with several partners to enable businesses and cities to gather, transmit, and analyze data about connection devices. The company works closely with Semtech, which has deployed LoRa networks in other parts of the globe. It also uses Actility, which operates an IoT platform to manages its devices and gateways, and provides data management, storage, and analytics.
“We believe that Comcast has a unique opportunity to leverage our existing network assets and Semtech’s LoRa technology to fuel IoT innovation with disruptive new business models and smarter cities,” said Alex Khorram, general manager of machineQ in a statement.
Competing with the Telcos
Comcast’s machineQ unit is competing with similar IoT initiatives from the big wireless firms like Verizon and AT&T, which have both announced nationwide LTE CAT-M IoT networks. Interestingly, Comcast also partners with Verizon to deliver its Xfinity Mobile cellular wireless service to its customers by piggybacking on Verizon’s cellular network though a five-year-old mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement.
In March, Verizon said its CAT-M network was live and available nationwide, covering approximately 2.4 million square miles. About 14,000 developers currently use Verizon’s ThingSpace IoT platform, which is web-based and designed as an easy tool for developers to use for IoT applications
Likewise, AT&T said in May that its LTE CAT-M network was available commercially nationwide. The operator also said it was expanding the network into Mexico by year-end.
Meanwhile, Sprint has said it plans to deploy LTE CAT 1 technology to support IoT across its network by the end of July. And T-Mobile has said it will deploy narrowband-LTE (NB-LTE) but has provided no time frame for that deployment.