Australia has an 'internet of things' mobile network

Photo: iStock.

The scenario of having everyday devices, like cars and water sprinklers, connected to the internet had been predicted as the future for several years. But now Telstra has taken Australia one step closer to that reality, announcing the launch of an “internet of things” mobile network.

“Telstra is the first operator to deploy a national IoT-enabled mobile network which will enable an IoT footprint among the largest in the world,” the telco announced at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona overnight.

Telstra, leveraging partner Ericsson’s Massive IoT network software, is deploying Cat-M1 functionality to allow internet of things devices to connect to its mobile network. The telco pulled through data from plant sensors at the Pooley Wines estate in rural Tasmania all the way to Barcelona to demonstrate the technology at its MWC booth.

“Cat-M1 is ideally suited to use cases requiring mobility, voice support and moderate bitrates in the order of hundreds of kbps, like vehicle telematics, asset tracking, consumer and healthcare wearables, and smart electricity metering,” Telstra stated.

Customer trials are currently under way in Melbourne as well as Tasmania.

Photo: iStock.

Telstra networks managing director Mike Wright said the new capability would have real-time uses in “logistics, utilities, medicine, transport, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and many more”.

“Cat-M1 meets the demands of Low Power Wide Area IoT applications. Advantages include low cost, low power consumption, deep coverage, massive numbers of connections, and high reliability of transmission,” he said.

“Cat-M1 can enhance LTE coverage for underground and in-building areas that challenge existing coverage.”

Telstra also announced at MWC that it, in partnership with Ericsson and Qualcomm, will start testing 5G New Radio specifications. This will prepare the telco to launch a 5G mobile network as soon as global standards and technologies become ready for commericial deployment.

“This development is a big step forward in 5G readiness,” said Wright. “This collaboration between Telstra, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies will help ensure 5G is ready for the Australian environment, including making sure it is able to be scaled up for our vast distance and sparse population, as well as ensuring our customers will be among the first in the world to enjoy the benefits of 5G.”

Testing is expected to begin in the second half of this year.

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