American telco Verizon reckons it's got a shot at being the next big Internet of Things player and might be eyeing up the NHS, the company's pet evangelist told IoT Tech Expo in London this morning.
"We are already deploying Cat M1 LTE," David Vasquez announced. Explaining how Verizon's preferred alternative to Sigfox, LoRa and NB-IoT is already "delivering that low-power connectivity on a cellular network", he also presented the case for licensed spectrum.
"That licensed spectrum – for security purposes – is already there and the cost parity will be, in no time, as close as some of these LPWANs we are seeing today," said Vasquez.
Some audience members cocked their eyebrows at that statement. Verizon's current M2M package starts at $5 per month for 1MB, which is already highly competitive against most commercial M2M airtime offerings.
"We enable connectivity of wearables using our IoT platform," he continued. Verizon sees a future where connected devices talk directly to networks, rather than the current system where sensors talk to a local server (conceptually) before the data is transmitted onwards.
"Some other use cases are a large health system that wants to target the elderly population," Vasquez said, and it doesn't take much imagination to realise which large health system he had in mind. "Maybe they'll get a wearable to provide some key vitals back to that health system. Could the large health system avoid visits to the person's home if they could safely monitor them? Could they avoid re-admittance to the ER?"
Verizon is also expanding its offering for connected cars, a growing part of the ever-broadening definition of IoT.
"We eat our own dog food," boasted Vasquez. "We have over 30,000 cars connected using our telematics solutions. We serve the OEM market and the enterprise market," he continued, adding that the firm has a dedicated product called Hum for the consumer aftermarket on top of all that.
In the European IoT world, Verizon is not a particularly big player; certainly the firm has but a small presence in the UK. Its adoption of Cat-M1 LTE (also known as LTE-M) as a plank of its IoT strategy may rule it out of the European market. Owner-operator MNOs such as Vodafone are rigging their LTE masts for NB-IoT – though the jury is still out on what final form NB-IoT will take, given the three subtly competing flavours of it currently in existence. ®