Spark announces LoRa IoT network rollout across New Zealand

Spark has partnered with Actility to build a LoRa IoT network across the country by 2018, with plans to also construct narrowband and LTE-M1 mobile-based IoT networks.

New Zealand telecommunications carrier Spark has announced that it has begun constructing a nationwide low-power, wide-area Internet of Things (IoT) network.

Spark said it has partnered with Actility and Kordia on designing and building the network, with a "significant proportion" to be operational as of June 2018.

The IoT network marks Spark's intent to "take a leadership position in IoT", IoT GM Michael Stribling said.

"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 Qrious to make sense of the torrent of information that will be created from networks of sensors connecting the things around us," Stribling added.

"The network we are rolling out is being developed by Kordia, who have commenced initial network design in preparation for the network build, which will operate on the LoRa network standard."

According to Stribling, Spark is also planning to deploy mobile-based IoT networks, including LTE-M1 and narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) networks, as different use cases could require different types of networking technologies depending on their varying data needs.

"In making an investment in LoRa, in addition to its LTE investments, Spark believes it will be in position to provide the broadest set of IoT solutions to its customers," Stribling said.

Spark is already undertaking Connected Farms trials with Farmlands, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and device partners in Waikato.

Spark's announcement follows news earlier on Monday that Vodafone NZ will be deploying a NB-IoT network in early 2018 across New Zealand.

Vodafone NZ had initially tested NB-IoT networking in September last year in partnership with Nokia, and will next trial the technology with several business customers later in 2017, which will involve software being deployed on several cell sites, as well as the use of Vodafone's networking testing facilities.

Vodafone NZ technology director Tony Baird said NB-IoT is the "premium" solution for connecting the tens of millions of IoT devices expected in the next few years.

"[NB-IoT] is supported by over 40 of the world's largest mobile operators, plus many more suppliers and innovators that serve the majority of the global IoT market," Baird said.

ZDNet revealed in May that Vodafone would be launching live NB-IoT networks in New Zealand, Australia, and Germany towards the end of 2017, following the launch of its NB-IoT network across six cities in Spain in January.

The networks in New Zealand and Germany will be nationwide, while Australia's will be rolled out in a state-by-state process beginning in Victoria where it has been running NB-IoT trials with Huawei for the past year, Vodafone told ZDNet.

Spark and Vodafone NZ are also using the second round of the RBI and the government's recently announced mobile blackspots program to provide connectivity across the country.

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