Verizon offers its IoT ThingSpace service on 5G

LOS ANGELES —Verizon’s ThingSpace has been around for several years, but the company hasn’t talked about it much recently, until today.

At Mobile World Congress Los Angeles this morning, Verizon Business Chief Revenue Officer Sampath Sowmyanarayan announced that Verizon-certified IoT devices can now access Verizon’s 5G Nationwide network. Verizon has new 5G Nationwide-compatible hardware and plans coming later this year. And devices and plans compatible with its 5G Ultra Wideband network — which operates on mmWave spectrum — are expected by Q1 2022.

In a briefing prior to the show, Verizon Business SVP of Industrial IoT and Automotive T.J. Fox said ThingSpace has been a “very fast-growing business with tens of millions of connections globally….and tens of thousands of customers.” In terms of large deployments, he gave the example of home security companies that manage alarm systems and cameras, which are using ThingSpace.

Fox said that ThingSpace can tap any of Verizon’s spectrum assets, including its narrowband-IoT and Cat M1 networks. “They’re guard-band deployments,” said Fox. “We run those networks within networks. But they’re in the same 700 MHz we do a lot of our traffic on. Now, we just announced IoT capabilities within our 5G Nationwide network.”

With Verizon’s 5G Nationwide network as well as its Ultra Wideband network the carrier’s IoT platform will have access to a full complement of spectrum to serve enterprises with their specific IoT needs.

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“We’re going to be the application provider of choice no matter if you need kilobytes, megabytes or gigabytes of data,” Fox said. Verizon will take care of where it sits in the network whether on Cat M1, NB-IoT, LTE or 5G.

The company manages IoT devices oversees via permanent roaming arrangements with other providers.

IoT module

In addition to announcing that ThingSpace will operate on Verizon’s 5G network, the company also unveiled a NB-IoT module that costs less than $4. The module is made by Quectel with a Qualcomm chipset. “This is the piece customers are so excited about,” said Fox. He said the low price will give enterprises the ability to finally use IoT more widely.

The module provides low-power consumption for applications that expect to operate for 15 or 20 years without being touched, such as smart meters, HVAC units, air and water quality monitors, manufacturing controls, smart lighting nodes and municipal smart infrastructure.

For example, in the past, companies would have liked to put an IoT module in their HVAC units to manage electricity or to send notifications like “change your filter.” But at a cost of as much as $150 per module, the business model just didn’t pan out.

In addition to the inexpensive module, Verizon will offer IoT plans for as little as sub-$1 per module.

All of the carrier’s IoT plans are operated by its ThingSpace platform, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to manage IoT devices.