Semtech’s LoRa Technology Used by NNNCo to Develop Rural IoT Network for Australia’s Farmers

Semtech’s LoRa Technology Used by NNNCo to Develop Rural IoT Network for Australia’s Farmers

With agriculture forecasted as one of the top five markets for IoT growth, the long-range, low-power LoRaWAN-based network should help grow Australia’s smart agriculture industry.

Semtech Corporation announced its collaboration with National Narrowband Network Communications (NNNCo), a provider of commercial-grade, low cost narrowband network connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT), to build a nationwide rural Internet of Things (IoT) network to bring high-tech agriculture solutions to Australian farmers.

The LoRaWAN™ open standard developed by the LoRa Alliance™ is expected to help transform Australia’s farms, giving farmers real-time data on soil moisture, rainfall, crops, water levels, and livestock through a network of in situ low-cost wireless sensors. One of the key comptabilities of a LoRaWAN is that it enables users to communicate bi-directionally with sensors on an individual or group level. The sensors use limited power and can operate ‘in the field’ for years without the need for intervention. The farmer will be able to make intelligent, sound decisions to drive multiple functions, including irrigation, livestock feed stations, water pumps, and emergency signals.

The LoRaWAN network will immediately cover one million acres of farmland across rural New South Wales (NSW) which will encompass dry land crops, horticulture and livestock and a number of rural towns. Within 18 months, the plan is to extend broadly across Australia.

“Semtech has been extremely successful in taking its unique LoRa® devices and wireless RF technology (LoRa Technology) to the global market through the LoRa Alliance, which is one of the fastest growing industry alliances in history. The open nature of this technology and the ability to truly innovate with it has allowed NNNCo to drive the right partnerships in the right industries, such as agriculture, to enable proliferation of sensors and devices over carrier-grade networks at a price point that can support volume,” said Rob Zagarella, Chief Executive Officer at National Narrowband Network Communications.

“The NNNCo LoRaWAN network should rapidly increase the adoption of smart agriculture and revolutionize the farming industry,” said Mike Wong, Vice President for Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group.

“With IoT device installations in the agriculture industry expected to increase by up to 60% in 2020, there is immense growth and opportunity for LoRa-enabled sensor applications.”

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Discovery Ag and NNNCo create rural IoT network for Australia’s farmers

Discovery AG and NNNCo create rural IoT network for Australia’s farmers

Australian agritech business Discovery Ag and connectivity specialist the National Narrowband Network Company (NNNCo) are forming a new joint venture to develop and roll out an IoT network for Australian farmers.

Today, at conference held in Melbourne by the Australian Farm Institute, it will announce plans to form a new company called Connected Country.

This will work to build and maintain this nationwide IoT network, and also bring other high-tech agriculture solutions to farmers across Australia.

Read more: IoT on the farm: automated cow milking and more

Farming data solution

When launched, this long-range wide area network (LoRaWAN) will provide the crucial infrastructure for connecting sensors that report on farm metrics such as soil moisture, rainfall, crop health, water levels and livestock data.

The two companies are planning to roll out the network immediately across 1 million acres in New South Wales, covering dry land crops, horticulture and livestock and a number of rural towns.

Over the next 18 months, the joint venture partners will look at extending the network across other areas of the nation’s farming regions.

According to the partners, the key success factor of Connected Country will be its ability to provide farmers with the tools needed to collect and analyse large datasets in a bid to make more informed decisions.

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

Big opportunity

Many people see agriculture as being one of the key industries where connected technology can contribute to the future growth and competitiveness of the Australian economy.

Alicia Garde, CEO of Discovery Ag, said: “While hi-tech farming techniques are in use today, significant areas of Australia’s farming footprint lack adequate network coverage.

“For those that do have coverage, existing connectivity networks can make it too expensive for farmers to network their sensors and create a truly connected smart farm.”

Improving sustainability

Rob Zagarella, founder and CEO of NNNCo, explained that this network will give farmers the tools they need to solve challenges around connectivity and sustainability.

“The Rural IoT Network is an extension of the NNN that we’re building nationwide and will help to solve connectivity and affordability problems for farmers,” he said.

“Together with Discovery Ag, we will be providing low-cost, end-to end standards-based solutions, comprising on-farm networks, network-ready sensors and access to simple on-farm tools that farmers can use to monitor information and take timely action.”

“The joint venture is the first of its kind in Australia’s emerging IoT market. Connected Country is dedicated to providing carrier-grade networks to enable smarter, cheaper and more ubiquitous sensors by leveraging local innovation in conjunction with a global ecosystem of providers.”

Read more: Kigali IoT network provides blueprint for African smart city initiatives


Although Connected Country is still in the early stages, it’s already begun working with key partners such as Cisco and the NSW Department of Primary Industries to get the network rolled out to farmers.

”Cisco has been collaborating with the NSW Department of Primary Industries to solve the digital drought in rural Australia. We see the Rural IoT Network as essential to this development,” said Cisco Australia and New Zealand vice president Ken Boal.

While there were other technologies the companies could have chosen to implement, they opted for LoRaWan because it’s well suited to agricultural requirements and is proven to be low cost. It also bodes well for low power consumption.

Zagarella added: “LoRaWAN’s capabilities are extremely well-suited to agricultural requirements. The technology is already used in farms across in Europe and the USA and has proven to be low-cost and effective.

“LoRaWAN-enabled sensors are available at a relatively low cost and a LoRaWAN on-farm gateway can cover large areas and connect to thousands of sensors at an affordable cost.”

Read more: Actility and Blink partner on national IoT network for Sweden

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