Telstra acquires MTData to boost connected vehicles business

The acquisition will enable Telstra to accelerate delivery of its enterprise connected vehicles offering, it said, which will also support the transition to autonomous vehicles.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra has announced acquiring Australian GPS and telematics fleet-management solutions provider MTData in what it said is a bid to increase its Internet of Things (IoT) business globally.

According to Telstra, MTData currently provides compliance and safety solutions that improve productivity and reduce operating costs for customers, which it said would allow it accelerate the delivery of its enterprise connected vehicles offering.

"The MTData acquisition provides Telstra with advanced technology and deep domain expertise in Connected Vehicle solutions," Telstra Enterprise ED Michelle Bendschneider said.

"This is in line with our Internet of Things growth strategy, and leverages from investment in the IoT footprint on our mobile network, which is the largest in Australia and one of the largest in the world.

"This strategic acquisition will enable us to capitalise on the business-ready IoT capability on our network, deliver IoT solutions to our customers in the heavy vehicle industry, and supports a natural transition towards future autonomous vehicle technologies."

By integrating with Telstra, MTData CEO and co-founder Matthew Bellizia said the company would be able to provide its customers with access to new and existing technologies, such as asset tracking and location data across the utilities, agriculture, and resources industries.

Telstra's Cat-M1 IoT network was switched on in August, with director of Networks Mike Wright in September announcing that it now covers more of Australia than the telco's 4G network.

"As of just a few weeks ago, we completed the rollout of our Cat-M1 IoT network in all of our 4G base stations," Wright said in September.

"Our 4G network covers 1.4 million square kilometres; with a feature called range extension, the system is able to actually send the bits repeated three times if they need to. We pushed the [Cat-M1] coverage range out from 1.4 to 3 million square kilometres.

"So we now have the coverage connectivity, the chipsets maturing, and, as we go up the stack, the capability of managing and activating the devices, the concept of an embedded SIM card ... combined with the enablement of management platforms and ultimately the data analytics platform that's going to unleash this new technology into the world."

In addition to Cat-M1 -- throughout which it also demonstrated voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls -- Wright added that Telstra also sees narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) as another "very important category".

The telco is thus aiming to establish an NB-IoT network within the next six months.

Telstra in May also launched an open IoT research and development lab, which provides a space for students, startups, and businesses to use controlled Cat-M1 and NB-IoT radio networks to create, test, and prototype their IoT solutions.

The lab provides such researchers with electronic testing equipment, hardware, and diagnostic tools in order to assist them in developing prototype IoT sensors, hardware, and technology.

At the time, Telstra additionally extended its autonomous vehicles partnership with the South Australian government and Cohda Wireless to conduct vehicle-to-everything connectivity trials in Adelaide during 2017.

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