Vodafone and Spark both announce IoT networks for New Zealand
Vodafone and Spark both announce IoT networks for New Zealand
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Vodafone and Spark both announce IoT networks for New Zealand

Telecommunications companies Vodafone and Spark have both announced that they will soon roll out IoT networks in New Zealand.

Following initial tests in September last year, Vodafone NZ said it will deploy a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network in the country early next year. The company will trial the technology with several business customers during late 2017, with plans to roll out the full network in early 2018.

The low-power, low-cost benefits of NB-IoT are expected to support the connection of millions of devices to the internet in the next few years.

Network competition in New Zealand

In a similar vein, Spark said it has partnered with low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) start-up Actility and New Zealand’s state-owned broadcast and telecommunications company Kordia to build a separate network based on the LoRa standard.

A “significant proportion” of the network is expected to be operational by June 2018, according to Spark general manager Michael Stribling, who claimed that the move indicates the company’s desire to “take a leadership position in IoT.”

“We already have a lot of capabilities needed to make the most of a more connected world – we have the world-class network, we have the platforms, and we have the big data analytics power of [local analytics vendor] Qrious to make sense of the torrent of information that will be created from networks of sensors connecting the things around us,” Stribling told ZDNet. Kordia has already begun work on the network design, he added.

Spark is already involved in Connected Farms trials with Farmland, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Ballance Agri-Nutrients and various hardware partners in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s north island.

This pilot began in April with 40 farms in the Matamata-Piako region and 20 farms to in the South Island and is delivering connectivity to farms through an on-farm Wi-Fi mesh network connected to the Internet via Spark’s 4G network and a low-power wide area network based on LoRaWAN technology, according to IoTHub.

Spark also said it is planning to deploy IoT networks in New Zealand based on LTE-M1 and NB-IoT standards to meet varying data needs.

Read more: Sigfox partners with WND-UK to extend IoT network coverage ‘to 95 percent of UK’

Momentum for IoT down under

IoT looks to be steadily gaining momentum down under. Graeme Muller, CEO of the New Zealand Technology Industry Association (NZTech) and chair of the New Zealand IoT Alliance, recently suggested that the application of IoT to dairy farming alone could be worth NZ$448 million (US$327 million) to the economy.

A report released last week by the New Zealand IoT Alliance corroborates this, and adds that New Zealand could reap NZ$2.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) in economic benefits from IoT over the next ten years if it can address connectivity barriers.

The picture is similar in close-by neighbor Australia, where both IoT network announcements follow the news announced in May that Thinxtra, an IoT specialist that operates the Sigfox IoT network in Australia and New Zealand, will build a dedicated IoT network in Tasmania that will cover 95 percent of the island before the end of 2017.

The company is also providing the connectivity for a new IoT-based security product from ATF Services, a company that specializes in protecting construction sites from theft and vandalism, with products including temporary fencing and video surveillance. More about both announcements here.

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