Spark New Zealand announced its low power wide area (LPWA) IoT network based on LoRa technology reached 60 per cent of the population, with plans to extend coverage to 70 per cent of urban and rural areas by July.
Michael Stribling, Spark’s GM IoT solutions, said: “Our IoT capability is really gathering pace and we’ve got this critical mass of coverage we’re able to make commercially available. We’re also looking to partner with organisations to extend coverage into areas where they need it.”
New Zealand’s second-largest mobile operator explained LoRa technology carries small amounts of data over long distances and uses less power than cellular networks, making it ideal for connecting objects far from power sources.
The cost to use the network is based on the number of sensors connected and the number of messages those sensors send each month. For example, a dairy farm in a remote area seeking an hourly update on the location and body temperature of its cattle will pay up to NZD1.79 ($1.31) per cow each month for connectivity. Designed for scale, the cost per connection decreases as the number of sensors increases, Spark said.
Spark tested LoRaWAN technology for well over a year with partners from a range of industries including agriculture, marine and smart buildings.
Stribling said the network will enable more IoT technologies from overseas, for example smart street lighting, to be adopted locally. It will also give domestic developers of IoT technologies the chance to launch their products in the country before pushing them overseas.
“We’ve worked with the International LoRa Alliance to agree on Asia-Pacific standards so that products developed on LoRaWAN in New Zealand will work the same way on LoRaWAN networks in other countries,” he said.
“Connected technologies play a big role in bridging the geographical barriers we face as a country. It’s critical for us that the networks we provide enable New Zealand businesses to reach the world.”
LoRa, which uses unlicensed spectrum, is a proprietary LPWA technology and a rival to three 3GPP-licensed LPWA technologies: NB-IoT, EC-GSM-IOT and LTE-M (also referred to as LTE CatM1).
Spark also is deploying an LTE-M network for different use cases and continues to monitor uses for NB-IoT technology.