IoT LoRaWAN network goes live in Sydney

The low-power, long-range IoT network is available within a 5km radius of Barangaroo in Sydney, operating on the 915MHz spectrum band and able to support up to 1,000 devices.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

One of the first live Internet of Things (IoT) networks in Australia has been launched in Sydney, with the network based on the low-power, long-range (LoRaWAN) open standard.

The Barangaroo Community Network, activated on Tuesday afternoon by Communications Minister Mitch Fifield during an IoT Alliance Australia (IoTAA) event, operates on the 915MHz industrial and scientific-allocated spectrum band, which is currently used for consumer devices operating under Low Interference Potential Devices (LIPD) class licences.

Those within a 3km to 5km radius of the network will be able to connect IoT devices for free, for the purposes of prototyping, testing, and developing solutions, with the IoT gateway able to support 1,000 devices at a time.

"The Internet of Things has the potential to transform a wide range of Australian sectors from agriculture to aged care, by placing sensors in everyday objects that can send and receive data. This data can then be analysed and used to increase the efficiency of services and develop new applications," Fifield said.

"The government is committed to working with industry to realise the full potential of IoT technologies and to ensure Australia takes a leadership role in this area."

The IoTAA, which emerged from the Communications Alliance IoT Think Tank earlier this year, has forecast the IoT industry to add around AU$120 billion to the Australian economy by 2025.

"This represents an uplift of up to 2 percent in Australia's GDP across a range of environments including factories, retail outlets, smart cities and homes, motor vehicles, other transport modes, and even human health and fitness; IoT is a pervasive disruptor," John Stanton, Communications Alliance CEO and chair of the IoTAA executive council, said.

Stanton added that the IoTAA is also focused on "managing the risks to network integrity and personal privacy" inherent in such a pervasive, open network, as well as examining the communications regulation.

"A third arm of necessary activity is to review the Australian regulatory framework through an IoT lens," Stanton said.

"Current regulations were typically not designed to cope with the requirements and challenges that IoT-based networks can present."

In regards to IoT spectrum availability, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has argued in favour of a default spectrum band for all IoT devices across the globe, or, alternatively, sensors that can identify which country a device is operating in.

The ACMA last week said it would be allocating additional spectrum in the 803-960MHz band to support low-power, low-duty cycle communications for various IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) services, along with mobile broadband.

"Our role is to examine the adequacy of spectrum arrangements for the Internet of Things. There's a huge diversity of users and uses; we believe there's no one simple solution to spectrum access through all these applications," Nevio Marinelli, manager of the ACMA's Spectrum Planning Section, said in July.

"IoT is turning towards requiring access to a range of different bands, and a range of access protocols, from dedicated spectrum to common spectrum, and options in between. In many cases, there's already radio frequency spectrum available for the use of IoT applications. These applications can and are being deployed in a range of bands within the existing regulatory framework by existing licensees or in cooperation with existing licensees."

Vodafone Australia similarly completed its trial of narrowband-IoT technology across a number of live sites in suburban and central Melbourne in April in partnership with Chinese technology giant Huawei, calling the wireless low-power, wide-area network tests a success.

The network operator was able to attain greater depth and distance -- to the tune of penetrating through three double-brick walls in depth, and up to 30km in distance -- in coverage using NB-IoT in comparison to 2G, 3G, and 4G.

Using narrowband networks for IoT will allow for more devices to be connected to 4G networks at a lower cost, Vodafone said at the time.

Dutch telecommunications giant KPN in July also switched on a low-power, long-range, wide-area IoT network across the Netherlands, becoming the first country in the world to have a national LoRa network.

KPN's LoRa network supplements existing 2G, 3G, and 4G networks and relies on the hundreds of mobile transmission towers already across the country that have now been equipped with a LoRa antenna and gateway.

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