NNN Co and Murata launch IoT devices for LoRaWAN

NNN Co has combined its software stack with Murata's LPWAN module to launch three end-to-end IoT and M2M devices, including a demand response enabling device and a smart streetlight controller.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Australia's National Narrowband Network (NNN) Company and Murata have launched three Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices for use on long-range, wide-area (LoRaWAN) 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 of LoRaWAN technology with Ergon Energy in Queensland.

"We realised that it required a software stack to actually apply that [Murata] module in the real world within certain industrial vertical applications," said NNN Co CEO Rob Zagarella.

"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 three devices incorporating the Murata module and the NNN Co SDS software stack are the "Demand Response Enabling Device" 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.

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.

NNN Co in October announced that it would be delivering a LoRaWAN narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network for Ergon Energy in partnership with IoT service platform provider Actility.

In what NNN Co called the "world's first group multicast LoRaWAN deployment", the network is being trialled for six months, with 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.

"The successful implementation of end-to-end multicast functionality results in a truly cost-effective, robust, and scalable two-way network service that can support remote over-the-air configuration and software upgrades in addition to group control of endpoint devices," Zagarella said at the time.

"This opens up additional use cases that require non real-time monitoring and control capability such as public lighting, agricultural irrigation, water, infrastructure, and building automation. Demonstrating this capability in one of the most challenging environments puts us in pole position for growth across these segments both in Australia and globally via partnerships with the other LoRa Alliance member operators around the world."

The network operates on the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) 920-928MHz spectrum band, with configurable devices that would be able to work on ISM band extensions if more spectrum becomes available for IoT in future.

In November, NNN Co said that it is able to transmit signals to devices up to 30 kilometres away, and provided coverage throughout Ergon's Townsville footprint with just three sites.

"This technology works, and it works over long distances; in fact, we've actually tested LoRa technology out to distances beyond 30 kilometres," NNN Co CTO Eric Hamilton said.

"Under normal circumstances, we'd build a base station every two to three kilometres, and within a CBD environment, like for example we've done within Melbourne CBD, we would be maybe down to about 300-metres radius."

Hamilton said that NNN Co also has the capabilities to control devices individually, narrowing them down by location, pole, or even what particular transformer they're connected to.

NNN Co began trialling its technology on Sydney's North Shore in August 2015 across 10 base stations covering 50-100 square kilometres, with the company aiming to roll out its wireless network nationwide.

In Australia, the LoRa technology operates across the 918MHz-928MHz spectrum band.

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