Within hours of Vodafone NZ on 3 July announcing plans to add NB-IoT capability to its mobile network to meet the requirements of communication with IoT devices, Spark announced plans to rollout a New Zealand-wide low powered wide area network for IoT. Spark 's network will be based on the LoRaWAN technology.
The company said it would also upgrade its mobile network to support NB-IoT and CAT-M1, another cellular technology designed for IoT connectivity.
Spark’s announcent takes the number of IoT networks planned or being rolled out across New Zealand to six. Kotahinet is also rolling out a LoRaWAN network and claims to have coverage of 75 percent of the population. Australian company Thinxtra is rolling out a low powered wide area network based on the proprietary Sigfox technology.
Spark said it expected to have a significant proportion of its LoRaWAN network operational by June 2018, but gave no timeframe for the introduction of CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.
Spark’s GM for IoT, Michael Stribling, said the network was being developed by Kordia. “[Kordia has] commenced initial network design in preparation for the network build,” he said.
Kordia is also rolling out Thinxtra’s Sigfox network and has signed up to be a Thinxtra channel partner. In March this year it said it hoped to sell a million connections on the Sigfox network in three years.
Spark said it had also engaged Actility to provide a platform and support the deployment of the network, describing the company as “the leading global platform provider for LoRa networks.”
Actility, based in France, provides the ThingPark IoT platform. It is also a partner of Australian LoRaWAN network operator National Narrowband Communications Company (NNNCo) and, separately, is providing ThingPark to underpin the Connected Country Network, a LoRaWAN network for agriculture being rolled out by a joint venture between Delta Agribuiness subsidiary Discovery Ag NNNCo.
Spark meanwhile is already involved in agricultural applications of IoT. It is working with Farmlands, NIWA and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, device partners to rollout pilot IoT capabilities on farm in Connected Farms pilot in Waikato.
In June, ahead of the release of the IoT Alliance report the CEO of NZTech, Graeme Muller, called for New Zealand’s agriculture industry to latch on to technology, and IoT in particular, to support economic growth and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market.