Australia's National Narrowband Network (NNN) Company has announced that it will be rolling out a long-range, wide-area (LoRaWAN) industrial IoT network across the nation in partnership with IoT service platform provider Actility.
The contract, announced on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, will see the two companies roll out the network on a "project-by-project" basis, and follows their trial of LoRaWAN technology over the preceding six months.
"This agreement is a key step in NNN Co's commercial network development as we move from a testing phase to commercial rollout of the national narrowband network," said NNN Co CEO Rob Zagarella.
"This will occur project by project across Australia, in partnership with Actility as NNN Co's network server provider. The big use cases in Australia are water, agriculture, energy monitoring and control, soil moisture, rainfall detection, cattle tracking, building management, and people movement. Given Australia's size and climate, we've also had to design in various architectures and gateway solutions to handle many different types of topographies and densities, from built-up urban centres to rural landscapes."
NNN Co and Actility have been trialling LoRaWAN technology with Ergon Energy in Queensland since November, delivering a LoRaWAN narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network for the energy utility for six months via sensors being installed on the hot water circuits of several houses in Townsville.
The companies are trialling a scalable solution for controlling hot water usage at the street, neighbourhood, and district levels using the flip of a switch to respond to peak demand. NNN Co is leveraging Actility's IoT platform and network server in combination with its own implementation of end-to-end multicast technology for Ergon's tailored solution.
According to Zagarella, NNN Co is now in its final stage of the Ergon proof of concept ahead of commercialisation, involving the build of 50 production-ready demand response enabling devices (DREDs).
"We know the network works and we're on the border between proof of concept and commercial deployments," Zagarella said.
"We're preparing ourselves to access Actility's network platform for commercial rollout."
NNN Co last week launched three IoT and machine-to-machine devices for use on LoRaWAN networks with Murata: The DREDs being used in the Ergon Energy trial; a controller for smart streetlights; and a device that accepts inputs from sensors and sends data over LoRa networks.
As part of the collaboration, Murata's LPWAN module design was integrated with NNN Co's Smart Device Software (SDS) software stack in order to deploy a solution for the latter's trial with Ergon and Actility.
"We realised that it required a software stack to actually apply that [Murata] module in the real world within certain industrial vertical applications," Zagarella said at the time.
"Our development partnership with Ergon Energy has allowed us to innovate early on with the Murata module, and in parallel test that out in the field in a hardened utility environment, leading to the production-ready version that we have today."
The SDS software stack combines NNN Co's granular multicast technology with a LPWA-unique protocol that is able to work globally via the use of published APIs, which will allow manufacturers, operators, and solutions providers to deploy IoT solutions in a faster and more cost-effective way, Zagarella said.