Telstra unveiled plans to create the first national Internet of Things network, thus contributing to further expansion of the IoT sector in Australia.

The Melbourne-based telecom company has announced the launch of an Internet of Things mobile network in Australia during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The announcement is part of the operator’s “Network of the Future” program that was revealed during the event.

Telstra became the first telecom company to deploy an IoT mobile network in the country and following a trial will enable one of the globe’s biggest Cat-M1 IoT footprint.

The company has partnered with Ericsson to enable Cat-M1 LTE networks using Ericsson’s Massive IoT network software. The Cat-M1 functionality will enable IoT appliances quickly connect to Telstra’s mobile network, what will drive the expansion of IoT ecosystem in Australia.

“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 said.

According to Mike Wright, the managing director of Telstra networks, the capability would have real-time uses across a variety of sectors, including transport, agriculture, logistics, medicine and others.

“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.”

The network is currently being tested by customers in Melbourne and Tasmania. Some results of the technology trial have been demonstrated in an Ericsson booth at the event. Telstra has showcased that sensors deployed at the winery in Tasmania are gathering data like temperature, wind speed, rainfall, soil moisture and solar radiation.

Telstra will support the operation of Cat-M1 technology by combining it with the company’s 4G network, which covers more than 98% of the population in Australia.

The company has also unveiled that it is planning to test 5G New Radio specifications in partnership with Qualcomm and Ericsson, with the start of the trial is planned for the second half of 2017. Telstra is going to deploy a 5G mobile network when global standards and technologies become ready for commercial launch.

“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,” Wright stated.

According to a recent study by Aruba, 77% of businesses in Australia will adopt the IoT technology by 2019. Meantime, security concerns, difficulty of integrating IoT technology with legacy platforms and high implementation costs were highlighted as the main hurdles to adoption.

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