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Spark Switches on LTE Cat-M1 IoT Network In New Zealand

New Zealand telecom operator Spark has switched on its second internet of things network, which brings LTE Cat-M1 to the carrier ’s 4G mobile network.

Spark said that the new IoT network is already live in major centres. The network will be rolled out across the rest of the country over the next six months, the telco said.

Alongside the new LTE Cat-M1 capabilities, Spark also operates an IoT network powered by LoRaWAN technology, which currently provides coverage to over 120 sites across New Zealand.

LTE Cat-M1 uses Spark’s licensed spectrum (700 and 1800 MHz bands), while LoRaWAN utilizes shared, unlicensed spectrum. Cat-M1 operates on Spark’s existing mobile infrastructure, while the LoRaWAN network operates on separate gateways deployed on Spark cell towers and third-party sites that Spark is deploying across New Zealand.

The rollout of Spark’s new IoT network will connect a wide variety of new and existing IoT solutions and services including wearables, smart appliances, electricity, gas and water meters, asset monitoring and industrial automation, the telco said.

Spark also said that the new network will be a key enabler to the progressive rollout of smart metering by Swiss company Landis+Gyr, a provider of smart metering and smart grid solutions.

“We’re excited to work with Landis+Gyr to roll out their smart metering technology on our network. We’re very focused on delivering the network foundations to allow businesses to use IoT to run their businesses better,” said Spark Digital Services Lead Michael Stribling. “By accelerating the availability of networks, we’re making IoT real, and we’re seeing huge opportunity for New Zealand businesses and communities to leverage this new technology.”

Landis+Gyr was the first in Australia to develop and demonstrate smart metering over the M1 network, which is being used in their smart meter and communication modules. The company already had smart metering solutions in New Zealand and opted to switch to Spark’s M1 network to take advantage of its broader coverage.

“Landis+Gyr meters fitted with our flexible and modular communication modules are perfectly suited to take advantage of 4G networks with M1 technology. This allows us to get to market quickly and provide utilities with a robust coverage to ensure the success of smart metering rollout,” said Rodney Chaplin, Landis+Gyr’s GM for Australia and New Zealand.

Switching on the new IoT network will enable other IoT technologies like smart cities and connected cars from overseas to be adopted here in New Zealand, said Stribling.

“M1 is a secure, high-quality network, ideal where sensors and devices are transferring data regularly and near real-time access to that data is critical,” the executive said. “We’re working with customers on a broad range of use cases for M1, driven by its nationwide coverage and high performance. Great examples include vehicle telematics, smart metering, smart health devices and smart cities applications such as lighting and environmental monitoring.”

“M1 offers huge potential for businesses, government and cities to work smarter, make better decisions and deliver better outcomes. We’ve invested in this purpose-built network so that our customers can take advantage of these possibilities. We’re confident New Zealand will be well-set for future growth in this technology,” said Colin Brown, Spark’s network evolution lead. – Enterprise IoT Insights

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