Spark has turned on its new national low-power wide area (LPWAN) network, aimed at serving the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) market.
Spark announced in July last year it had commenced the development of a nationwide long-range, low-power network, at the time saying it was already working with New Zealand partners to demonstrate a partnership approach to IoT.
Now, the telco has switched on the new network, claiming that it is available for commercial use in 60 per cent of the country’s populated areas.
Spark said the network is currently providing coverage in Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Shannon, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch and Dunedin. Sites in Hastings and Invercargill will go live in the next few weeks.
“Our IoT capability is really gathering pace, and now we’ve got this critical mass of coverage we’re able to make the network commercially available. This is a real milestone for Spark as we help New Zealand organisations win big in IoT,” Spark's IoT solutions general manager, Michael Stribling, said.
“While we currently have 60 per cent of rural and urban New Zealand covered, we’ll be working to extend that to 70 per cent by July this year. We’re also looking to partner with organisations to extend coverage into areas where they need it,” he said.
The network makes use of LoRaWAN technology -- a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification designed for wireless battery-operated devices in a regional, national or global network.
Networks built on the technology carry small amounts of data over long distances, using less power than conventional cellular networks, making them ideal for connecting objects that are far from power sources. It is this quality that makes such networks perfect for the IoT landscape, which is populated such low-power devices.
Spark claims that, compared to regular cellular connectivity, the new long-range network is an “affordable IoT option”, with the cost to use the network based on the number of sensors connected, and the number of messages those sensors send each month.
Spark said it has been testing LoRaWAN technology on trial sites for well over a year, with partners from a range of industries, including agriculture, marine and smart buildings. As revealed mid-last year, the network was developed in partnership with Kordia.
According to Stribling, the new network will enable more IoT technologies from overseas, such as smart street lighting, to be adopted in New Zealand. As the same time, it is expected to give New Zealand developers of IoT technologies the chance to launch their products locally.
“We’ve worked with the International LoRa Alliance to agree on Asia-Pacific standards so that products developed on LoRaWAN in New Zealand will work the same way on LoRaWAN networks in other countries,” Stribling said.