Actual 4GLTE CAT M1 Coverage in the USA

Verizon and AT&T both say that they have nationwide 4GLTE CAT M1 coverage in the USA, and later this year T-Mobile will add nationwide NB-IOT coverage (and later CAT M1 coverage). All 3 carriers have also said that it is just a software upgrade to existing 4GLTe towers to add CAT M1 (and NB-IOT) coverage.

However does that really mean they have actually upgraded all of their (and their partner carriers’) 4GLTE towers to CAT M1, and that there are no holes in their nationwide CAT M1 coverage today? In other words, can I look at their various 4GLTE coverage maps and know that we will actually have CAT M1 everywhere that 4GLTE is??? Why don’t they (the carriers) just publish CAT M1 coverage maps, or at least put a notation on their 4GLTE maps that says “CAT M1 coverage is or isn’t available in all 4GLTE locations on this map”?

In the past, cellmodems had fallback coverage to lower speeds just in case the cell tower in that area had not been upgraded to the latest technology. However, with the newer CAT M1/NB-IOT modules, that is not the normal case in the USA — the only fallback is CAT M1 to NB-IOT, and vice versa — not CAT M1 (or NB-IOT) to 3G or 2G.

We want to switch our existing product over to utilize a Pycom GPy module (which is only CAT M1 or NB-IOT with no fallback), and we want to know if there are currently no holes in the nationwide AT&T and/or Verizon CAT M1 network across the USA?!?

Hi @BillOtto

Great question but unfortunately only those who control the towers can report this information. All three are available through our SIM but since we do not maintain the infrastructure we cannot answer your question with certainty.

I believe we do have a granular coverage map on our roadmap but do not quote me.

You are correct the GPy does not fallback to older technology but there are many modems that do. For example the SimCOM 7000E falls back to 2G

From my personal testing I’ve noticed holes in 4G Cat-M1 networks but nothing drastic. I believe these holes will filled as time goes on and the demand grows.

Hope this provides more info but ultimately the tower operator maps are the best sources.

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