Telstra launches nationwide NB-IoT network for Australia

Telstra launches nationwide NB-IoT network for Australia

A new NB-IoT network from Telstra covers major Australian cities and towns and adds to the telco’s existing Cat-M1 network. 

Australian telco Telstra has launched its new national, narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network, with deployments across major Australian cities and many regional towns.

According to the company, this comes in addition to around three million square kilometres of Cat-M1 IoT coverage that it switched on in 2017. Telstra claims to be the only carrier in Australia and one of the first in the world to offer both NB-IoT and Cat-M1 IoT connectivity. 

Telstra chief operations officer Robyn Denholm said that the technology would speed up IoT adoption 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.

By contrast, the Cat-M1 network is better suited to devices on the move that send and receive a more consistent, reliable feed of information.

Read more: T-Mobile reveals $ 6 per device price tag for Magenta NB-IoT plan

Sensors, trackers and alarms

Speaking of the company’s IoT connectivity, Denholm said:  “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.”

Telstra, she claimed, already connects more than two million IoT devices in Australia today. The company’s Smart Home platform meanwhile, supports lights, cameras and motion sensors. The NB-IoT capability, she added, has been delivered as part of Telstra’s ‘Networks for the Future’ program, a key pillar in the up to $ 3 billion capital investment Telstra is making.

Read more: Thinxtra provides Sigfox connectivity to IoT projects down under

Device numbers to grow four-fold in five years

“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,” 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. 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,” said Denholm.

Telstra also announced it had 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 Launceston. Under the agreement an IoT lab will be established in Launceston and Telstra will support the creation of a Tasmanian agritech start-up accelerator.

Read more: Spark NZ takes two-pronged approach to IoT connectivity

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Australia sets regulations for driverless vehicle systems

Road traffic authorities in Australia have received the regulations they must comply with to roll out intelligent transport systems (ITS)

ITS support driverless vehicles by enabling vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-person, and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. Today’s regulations mark a key milestone towards mass rollout of driverless vehicles in Australia.

"ITS are expected to make roads smarter, safer, and cleaner through the use of communications technologies," says ACMA acting chair James Cameron. "The new Class Licence will facilitate the rollout of the latest transportation communications technology, putting Australia on par with other nations adopting ITS."

The 5.9GHz band has been made available for ITS usage in Australia as part of the Radiocommunications (Intelligent Transport Systems) Class Licence 2017 regulations.

An ITS station can be operated by a party with a Class License on the condition that it’s operated on a frequency, or within a range of frequencies, greater than 5855 MHz and not greater than 5925 MHz.

The power output must not exceed a maximum EIRP of 23 dBm/MHz and it cannot be operated within 70kms of the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory. The station must also comply with ETSI Standard EN 302 571.

A key goal of the new regulations is to bring Australia in line with other major vehicle markets such as the United States and European Union. This regulatory alignment will aid with research and development, and the eventual rollout of driverless vehicles.

"Harmonising Australia's ITS arrangements with wider global developments means Australian motorists are more likely to enjoy the benefits of connected vehicles as they become available," ACMA said in a statement.

What are your thoughts on Australia’s new driverless vehicle regulations? Let us know in the comments.

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Australia to witness Huawei’s NB-IoT testing and certification centre

Australia is all set to witness one-of-its-kind testing facility. Huawei has announced its support to James Cook University (JCU) and Enex TestLab. The support extended is in the form of providing the equipments for JCU and Enex TestLab to set up a narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) testing and certification facility in northern Australia.

As per the agreement, the facility will take care of testing and certification for NB-IoT devices, monitors, and sensors. Using Enex TestLab, JCU will be able to certify devices according to globally recognised standards endorsed by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).

This partnership places Australia at the leading edge of NB-IoT development and implementation, and enhances JCU’s IoT leadership both nationally and globally. JCU shared that it would be offering Australia’s first IoT engineering degree. Those studying the IoT degree will have the chance to be hosted at Huawei’s campuses in China and Sydney to take part in its Seeds for the Future R&D campaign.

Huawei will be providing the equipment and support to set up the lab, but won’t partake in the testing or certification process. Huawei’s focus on IoT saw it similarly opening an NB-IoT lab in Newbury, UK with Vodafone last year, which is dedicated to NB-IoT technology and applications R&D. Huawei at the time said it would open six more across the globe.

Huawei is already helping deploy its smart city solutions to more than 120 cities across 40 countries, and last month said it is also pushing the concept of safer cities through technology and IoT applications.   Read more…

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Tesla Powerpack begins work on powering South Australia

Tesla Powerpack forms world’s largest lithium ion battery to help power South Australia

The 100MW Tesla Powerpack, built by industry pioneers Tesla, has now been activated – allowing it to store energy produced by a nearby windfarm and stabilize South Australia’s electrical grid.

In September 2016, a massive storm caused an unprecedented state-wide blackout in South Australia, with 1.7 million people spending the night without power and questions raised about the stability of the region’s renewable energy supply.

The event led to the coupling of the Hornsdale Wind Farm with the world’s largest lithium ion battery. The set-up can power 30,000 homes for an hour (approximately the number of properties that lost power during the blackout) and otherwise support the region’s electricity supply.

The historic deal was formed between electric car makers Tesla and French energy company Neoen, with the help of government backing. Tesla boss Elon Musk famously promised that his company would get the Tesla Powerpacks system installed and working within 100 days – or he would do it for free.

Read more: Business Secretary Greg Clark MP announces new national battery facility for UK

Building the world’s largest lithium ion battery

Musk went on to quote $ 250 per kilowatt hour for 100 megawatt hour systems, saying that Tesla was moving to fixed and open pricing across the board. The project moved surprisingly quickly in the storm’s aftermath, with the South Australian government proving its reputation as a serious advocate of renewable energy.

Tesla completed the project in around 60 days from the contract being signed, though the company reportedly got a head start on construction.

For all their environmental benefits, wind and solar energy are less predictable sources of power than fossil fuel or nuclear alternatives. The coupling of renewable technology with batteries is seen as a key way to prevent the kinds of widespread blackouts that South Australia experienced.

You can see the current composition of each Australian state’s energy production here, including live supply and demand.

Read more: Battery tech will power global smart grid ambitions

Tesla Powerpack: Unlocking the potential of renewables

“Tesla Powerpack will charge using renewable energy from the Hornsdale Wind Farm and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure,” announced Tesla. “The Tesla Powerpack system will further transform the state’s movement towards renewable energy and see an advancement of a resilient and modern grid.”

Musk claims that the 100MW battery is three times as powerful as the next largest in the world. As Australia grows more reliant on renewables, the project should help to pacify the political opponents that the aggressive move to wind and solar energy, and the resultant blackouts, cultivated.

“While others are just talking, we are delivering our energy plan, making South Australia more self-sufficient, and providing back up power and more affordable energy for South Australians,” said State Premier Jay Weatherill, who flicked the switch to activate the Tesla Powerpacks.

Rechargeable lithium batteries have been used since the 1970s, but recent large-scale deployments in electric vehicles and the energy sector has seen demand escalate, threatening a shortfall of available materials with which to make them by 2020.

Tesla’s Powerwall residential battery is being installed across homes in Australia, too. The same technology used to stabilize the South Australian grid is allowing homeowners to collect energy during the day, via photovoltaic panels, and supply it at night, even if the grid goes down.

Read more: Future Grid aims to power up the Internet of Energy with Hazelcast

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The installed base of fleet management systems in Australia and New Zealand to reach 1.4 million units by 2021

The installed base of fleet management systems in Australia and New Zealand to reach 1.4 million units by 2021

The installed base of fleet management systems in Australia and New Zealand to reach 1.4 million units by 2021

The number of active fleet management systems deployed in commercial vehicle fleets in Australia and New Zealand was almost 0.7 million in Q4-2016 according to a new research report from M2M/IoT analyst firm Berg Insight.

Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.7 percent, this number is expected to reach 1.4 million by 2021. The fleet management market in Australia and New Zealand is today influenced positively by a number of market drivers including regulatory developments such as health and safety regulations, road user charges and electronic work diaries.

A wide variety of players serve the fleet management market in Australia and New Zealand, ranging from small local vendors to leading international solution providers.

“Industry representatives however argue that the Australian fleet management space is actually not as fragmented as many other markets considering its size”, says Rickard Andersson, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight.

He adds that though there is a myriad of very small players, the fact that there are few players with large installed bases means that the overall market is indeed comparably consolidated in terms of market share.

Mr. Andersson continued:

“The top-10 players in Australia and New Zealand account for more than half of the active units on the market. Almost 40 percent is even represented by the top-5.”

Berg Insight chart: number of active fleet management units in AU and NZBerg Insight ranks Teletrac Navman as the largest provider in Australia and New Zealand, having surpassed the milestone of 100,000 active units in the region in 2017. Other major players on the market incl ude EROAD, IntelliTrac, MTData, Smartrak and Coretex which are all based in the region, as well as international players including Verizon, Altech Netstar, Fleet Complete, MiX Telematics and Ctrack.

“Ongoing M&A activity in the region adds to the consolidation of the market and the emergence of a limited number of dominant solution providers with above-average growth rates”, concludes Mr. Andersson.

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