Australia’s largest mobile operator, Telstra, announced it deployed narrowband technology in its IoT network in major cities and many regional towns.

In a statement, the operator said the NB-IoT deployment adds to an existing 3 million square km of LTE-M coverage it turned on in August 2017.

LTE-M is a simplified industry term for LTE Cat-M1 IoT technology, which is one of three cellular-based low power wide area (LPWA) IoT standards established by 3GPP in its Release 13 specification (the other two being NB-IoT and EC-GSM-IoT).

Telstra COO Robyn Denholm said narrowband technology will accelerate IoT usage in Australia by opening up the opportunity to connect millions of new devices sending small volumes of data at very low power levels over its mobile network.

“We have added the ability to support millions of new devices like sensors, trackers and alarms operating at very low data rates that can sit inside machines and vehicles, reach deep inside buildings and have a battery life of years rather than hours and days,” Denholm said.

She added the company connects more than 2 million IoT devices and offers connected lights, cameras and motion sensors on its smart home platform: “We expect the new mobile network capabilities will drive rapid growth, and over the next five years we forecast we will be connecting four-times more devices than we do today.”

“We’ve embraced both Cat-M1 and narrowband to give customers, particularly our enterprise customers in industries like transportation and logistics, mining, manufacturing and agriculture, the opportunity to choose which technology best suits their needs,” she said.

LTE-M is well suited to applications with data in the hundreds of kb/s with extended range and long battery life, such as a personal health monitor or a device used to measure vehicle performance. Narrowband is better suited to applications sending even smaller amounts of data and operating with an even longer battery life, such as a moisture sensor or livestock tracking device.

Connected cities
Telstra also said it entered into a smart city partnership with the Tasmanian state government, the federal government, several local councils and the University of Tasmania to develop and trial new IoT solutions and drive the uptake of IoT in the city of Launceston. Under the agreement an IoT lab will be established in the city and Telstra will back the creation of a Tasmanian agritech start-up accelerator.

Denholm said for Australia to take advantage of the opportunities offered by IoT technologies, the country needs a vibrant local ecosystem involving technology companies, start-ups, universities and government collaborating on new products and solutions.