US operator T-Mobile is launching IoT developer kits which is described as ‘its next step to unleash developers to innovate for wireless.’
The kits are supposed to enable developers to connect to and build things for the T-Mobile network ‘with no strings attached’, and is available through T-Mobile DevEdge, the operator’s ‘self-serve developer platform’ that launched earlier this year. The firm boasts that the kit ‘democratises’ access to the network, and makes it easier to create connected solutions – although what they might be is left non-descript.
The release states rather dramatically ‘for years, the carriers have stymied, stifled and slowed wireless innovation, with their limited support, inaccessible experts, and bureaucratic processes to just get access to their networks.’ The developer kit is supposed to change all that as whoever wants it can get their hands on this kit and rustle up ‘the connected solutions of tomorrow.’
It costs $99 a kit, and includes an SDK (software development kit), access to free APIs like device location, SMS notifications, and diagnostic tools, a CAT-M IoT Network SIM with speeds up to 375 Kbps, embedded sensors and radios, bluetooth and wifi enabling hardware, and other such things those working on connectivity innovations might need.
“T-Mobile is opening doors for innovators of all kinds, making building for wireless simple and easy… the way it should be,” said Rob Roy, SVP of Emerging Products at T-Mobile. “As the Un-carrier, we’re empowering developers, no matter their size or what stage of the development process they’re in, to create innovative connected solutions. Our IoT Developer Kit, a fully functional out-of-the-box kit that connects seamlessly to our leading network, is our next big step in driving that innovation forward.”
If you do happen to find yourself in the position of tinkering with some sort of new gizmo based on connectivity and are struggling with the technical hurdles, something like this might conceivably make your life easier – and $99 it all sounds a pretty reasonable price.
However much like when operators and kit vendors make a big show of opening up communal labs, inviting anyone with half an idea that’s in some way 5G related to come in and work on it there, the telco industry can sometimes be at risk of giving the impression it’s not sure itself about where it is heading.
It certainly wants the world to be excited about next gen connectivity technologies, but we’re still waiting for it to generate a practical consumer use case for 5G several years into its lifecycle. Programs to try and foster innovation and usher in the next Uber or some amazing IoT gadget – whether it’s by beckoning talent into labs or throwing out the tools to help some post-grads or start ups work ok them at home – are telling in that they are usually so wide in their remit.
It could be that since many firms don’t really have a ton of solid things to point to (on the consumer side certainly) when it comes to, for example, why 5G is so important – as has been the marketing spin for years – they’ve concluded that if they make the conditions right maybe someone else will come up with it for them. And if they can be secured under the corporate umbrella while they develop it, all the better.
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