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Verizon said it is moving full steam ahead with its plans for a nationwide Cat-M1 launch, and it just hit a major milestone.

The carrier said on Monday it successfully conducted the first live, over-the-air data call using a commercial Sequans Cat-M1 chip in a prototype device.

The test, which was conducted in Miami in the middle of last week, was conducted on Verizon’s 4G LTE network and achieved speeds in the “tens of kilobits per second” range, Verizon Labs Executive Director of Technology Chris Schmidt said.

Schmidt declined to speculate on how Verizon’s achievement compared to similar efforts underway by rival AT&T due to a lack of detail about the latter’s trials. He did, however, say Verizon’s transmission last week marked a “very significant milestone” and represented “concrete” progress.

According to Schmidt, the development followed months of work in Verizon’s labs throughout the summer and comes ahead of the carrier’s planned nationwide launch of Cat-M1 technology sometime in the first quarter of 2017. He said the carrier plans to continue running the kinds of “tests we would normally run when launching new technology,” leading up to the roll-out next year.

The new Cat-M1 technology rides over Verizon’s 4G LTE network, Schmidt said, and will be implemented across cell sites nationwide via a software upgrade. The roll-out isn’t expected to impact network congestion, he said.

Unlike other Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, Schmidt said the Cat-M1 technology over LTE offers the benefits of both expanded cellular coverage and security. Cellular, he said, is a “proven technology for authentication and encryption.”

Schmidt said Verizon has also been working with several industry partners on devices that will be released by the end of this year as part of a new Cat-M1 ecosystem. On Monday, Link Labs and Encore Networks both announced new Cat-M1 solutions – an open-sourced hardware and software platform called Sensor Suite and a router, respectively – based on the Sequans Monarch chipset used in last week’s test.

Sequans said its tiny 6.5 by 8.5 mm Monarch chipset is “purpose-built for narrowband IoT applications, including sensors, wearables, and other low data, low power M2M, and IoT devices.”

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