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Telstra adds narrowband capability to its IoT network

Australian telco claims to be one of the first in the world to support both narrowband internet of things and Cat M1 technologies

Australian telco Telstra has added narrowband capabilities to its internet of things (IoT) network following the launch of its Cat M1 IoT offering late last year.

With narrowband IoT, or NB-IoT, Telstra claims to be the only carrier in Australia, and one of the first in the world, to offer both narrowband and Cat M1 IoT technologies, enabling enterprises in industries such as logistics, mining, manufacturing and agriculture to choose the technology that best suits their needs.

Cat M1 IoT allows LTE operators to extend their reach into the burgeoning IoT market by supporting low data rate applications such as utility meters, along with voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) and mobility capabilities. NB-IoT, although potentially cheaper, does not come with voice and mobility capabilities.

Robyn Denholm, Telstra’s chief operations officer, said narrowband technology would “accelerate IoT in Australia by opening up the opportunity to connect millions of new devices sending small volumes of data at very low power levels over Telstra’s mobile network”.

These devices include 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, said Denholm.

“Cat M1 is well suited to applications with data in the 100s of kilobits per second with extended range and long battery life, such as a personal health monitor or a device used to measure vehicle performance,” she added. “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.”

Read more about IoT in Australia

Telstra’s NB-IoT capability has been delivered under its Networks for the Future programme, which is part of a A$3bn investment it is making to digitise its operations, meet the growing demand for data and lay the groundwork for 5G and IoT.

Meanwhile, Telstra has teamed up with the Tasmanian state government, the federal government, local councils and the University of Tasmania to develop and test new IoT technology and drive the uptake of IoT in Launceston, Tasmania.

In August 2017, the Australian government said it was pumping in up to A$10m to help companies monitor and manage their operations through an IoT network focused on cutting energy use. The network, based on the competing Sigfox IoT connectivity technology, would be used to power smart city and clean energy applications across the country.

Read more on Internet of Things (IoT)

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