Vodafone says it has turned on two cellular network technologies designed for the Internet of Things: NB-IoT and LTE-M (more generally known as CAT-M1).
At present Vodafone NB-IoT is available to 97.5 percent of the population and 48.2 percent of the land area. LTE-M has 60.1 percent population coverage. Vodafone says this his will increase to 96.6 percent population coverage and 40.8 percent land area coverage, but has given no timeframe.
Vodafone announced plans for the NB-IoT rollout in July 2017. Spark switched on CAT-M1 in September this year. It already operates a widespread LoRaWAN network and said in March this year that it was still evaluating the case for NB-IoT.
Vodafone IoT country manager, Scott Pollard, said both technologies would enable connectivity for a wide range of devices. “NB-IoT delivers signal strength that can penetrate through concrete, underwater, underground and deep into infrastructure," he said. It is set to shape the connected farm of the future with applications like remote monitoring for stock feeding, electric fencing and water tank levels.
“LTE-M offers strong battery life and fast throughput of data to enable real-time applications like vehicle tracking, asset monitoring and logistics, with future support for voice calls."
He said a number of pilot projects using the new services were already underway.
In Punakaiki local volunteer group Predator Free Punakaiki is working to create a native bird sanctuary. "In their quest to eradicate predators, they have turned to an innovative IoT pest control solution, MinkPolice, which already has a track record of success in Europe," Pollard said.
MinkPolice's devices presently use text messages, not NB-IoT or LTE-M, but MinkPolice says it is about to move to NB-IoT, which will enable volunteers to set traps in more remote areas of the sanctuary.
Pollard said also that Motiv, an Auckland-based IoT solutions company, had designed customised hardware and a web-based scheduling and control system to manage and monitor the status of electronic school road signs across Auckland.
"Auckland Transport wanted visibility of their [signs'] condition so that they could explore automated maintenance models that would increase service uptime."
Managing Director of Motiv Solutions, Ben Birch said: “We’ve created an IoT solution that delivers Auckland Transport real-time performance of their smart school-sign fleet, meaning they are alerted to any road-side collisions with the sign, thefts or vandalism and can keep track of solar performance."
He added: "The application has been ported to operate on Vodafone’s LTE-M network and has delivered exceptional performance throughout engineering testing of the first live towers."
In March 2017 Computerworld reported Thinxtra, the licensee for the Sigfox low powered wide area network — which competes with NB-IoT and LTE-M — and its New Zealand partner Kordia saying Auckland Transport was interested in using the network for this application. Thinxtra Massey University and Motiv had developed a proof of concept.