Spark has has joined the rush of Internet of Things (IoT) news, announcing it has commenced the development of a nationwide low power wide area (LPWAN) network.
Earlier today Vodafone outlined its intention to roll out a similar network nationwide in early 2018, while last week the IoT Alliance released a report outlining $2.2 billion in potential benefits from IoT adoption.
"The network we are rolling out is being developed by Kordia, who have commenced initial network design in preparation for the network build which will operate on the LoRa (Low Range) network standard, a global standard for IoT," Spark’s GM for IoT, Michael Stribling, said.
A significant proportion of the network is expected to be operational by June 2018, he added, enabling sensors and devices to be connected over the LoRa network nationwide. An advantage of LoRa is that it enables a long battery life on sensors and devices.
Spark Ventures has been working on the possibilities of the Internet of Things and what it could mean for New Zealand.
"We are moving to take a leadership position in IoT because we already have a lot of capabilities needed to make the most of a more connected world – we have the world-class network, we have the platforms, and we have the big data analytics power of Qrious to make sense of the torrent of information that will be created from networks of sensors connecting the things around us."
Stribling said being connected to that extent will change the way we look at everything - rubbish bins could schedule themselves to be emptied at the right time, farmers could have detailed information about pasture and animals to make decisions with precision.
Spark is also advancing plans to deploy mobile network-based IoT networks (LTE-M1 and Narrow-Band LTE).
“We believe that there are different use cases emerging for different IoT networks, depending on the level and type of data that needs to be transmitted by IoT devices," Stribling said.
"In making an investment in LoRa, in addition to its LTE investments, Spark believes it will be in position to provide the broadest set of IoT solutions to its customers."
Stribling said the development would provide confidence to customers and ecosystem partners that there will soon be a nationwide LoRa network available in New Zealand.
"We believe there is a significant opportunity for New Zealand device and solution companies to take a lead position in IoT, with projections suggesting the number of connected devices will explode globally, and in New Zealand."
Spark said it was already working with New Zealand partners to demonstrate a partnership approach to IoT, as evidenced in the Connected Farms pilot, where it is working with Farmlands, NIWA and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, as well as device partners to roll-out pilot capabilities on farm in the Waikato.
Spark has also engaged Actility, the leading global platform provider for LoRa networks, to provide a platform and support the deployment of the network.