Telstra adds Narrowband to the IoT playbook

Telstra has announced the introduction of Narrowband technology into its IoT Network, to add to the three million square kilometres of Cat M1 IoT coverage the telco turned on in 2017.

IoT in Australia has seemingly gotten off to a positive start, with Telstra claiming to already connect two million IoT devices, and with this announcement it joins the top-table of telcos who are able to offer both Narrowband and Cat M1 IoT capabilities.

“We already offer our customers Australia’s largest and fastest mobile network and with our IoT Network now 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,” said Telstra COO, Robyn Denholm.

“These devices will be the centrepiece of the Internet of Things, which involves enabling everyday objects to send and receive data and will transform the way we all live and work in the years ahead.

“We are already leading the emergence of IoT in Australia – we connect more than two million IoT devices today and offer connected lights, cameras and motion sensors on the Telstra Smart Home platform. We expect the new mobile network capabilities we have deployed will drive rapid growth and over the next five years we forecast we will be connecting four times more devices than we do today.”

The announcement forms part of the telcos Networks for the Future programme, and part of the $3 billion capital investment Telstra intends to make to transform its network. This is a positive step towards the IoT dream, as while Cat M1 is certainly a useful technology, it might be deemed too powerful for some IoT use cases.

While Cat M1 supports applications with data in the 100s of kilobits per second, for some use cases this might be deemed excessive. Narrowband IoT is better suited to smaller data transmissions, and opens up the telco to the more basic IoT applications, for example moisture sensor or livestock tracking device. Wouldn’t want those kangeroos wasting capacity now would we?