Vodafone has become the first Australian telco to launch a low power wide area network, specifically designed to connect to millions of IoT devices around the nation.

The company states its commercial narrowband IoT service, targets devices which can run on batteries for over 10 years.

The majority of such devices are ‘sensors’ – e.g. small internet-connected devices in roads monitoring cars moving in/out of parking spots, or those embedded in walls to monitor temperature, air quality and even identify airborne diseases.

Stuart Kelly, Vodafone’s Executive General Manager of Enterprise, states the new technology will birth new opportunities for machine-to-machine connectivity, not available before.

The company states the low power network will also incorporate strong security features, essential for IoT communications.

Mr Kelly states Vodafone recognises there is rapidly expanding IoT ecosystem in Australia, following discussions with manufacturers of narrowband IoT-compatible devices:

“Australians will see a huge variety of products, services and applications enabled by NB-IoT over the coming years as more carriers, vendors, utilities and commercial organisations roll out and harness the benefits of this new way of connecting devices”

“This will enable society to become smarter and more efficient, massively benefiting the general public as well as businesses”.

The telco has started launching the network at its offices in Port Melbourne and North Sydney and began launching around Frankston in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Vodafone plans to extend the network across Melbourne CBD and metro suburbs during November. Expansion to selected areas of Sydney and Canberra will roll out in December, before expanding to other Australian areas next year.

The company states tests conducted in the Melbourne CBD area thus far show greater coverage – relating to distance and depth – compared to those offered by 2G, 3G and 4G technology, and offers better penetration of physical barriers, enabling connectivity areas such as underground car parks and basements.

Vodafone is currently working with two new customers  – Metasphere and CCP Technologies – to commence trials of the network before the year.

The customer’s smart IoT sensors capture temperature and other relevant data in controlled refrigeration environments, used for compliance verification and business and alert notifications.

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