Vodafone has launched two new Internet of Things (IoT) offerings in New Zealand in a bid to capture growing customer interest in an emerging technology market.
The telco giant has unveiled NB-IoT and LTE-M2, designed to allow Kiwis to connect into an IoT platform and expansive range of IoT applications.
“This is a world-first combined launch of NB-IoT and LTE-M IoT networks at the same time within the Vodafone Group,” said Tony Baird, technology director at Vodafone.
“With over 1.6 million cellular IoT connections, Vodafone New Zealand has already cemented itself as the largest provider of IoT in New Zealand, and these technologies are expected to drive the next wave of IoT innovation here in New Zealand and overseas.
“When combined with our extensive mobile and fixed networks these new IoT technologies will give Kiwis access to some of the best connectivity experiences in the world.”
Leveraging more than 77 million connections in more than 30 countries, Vodafone’s IoT technologies are embedded within connected vehicles built by Audi, BMW, Daimler Benz, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche, SEAT, VW and Yamaha motorbikes.
According to Scott Pollard - IoT country manager at Vodafone - both technologies will enable connectivity for a wide range of devices using licensed spectrum in a “secure, scalable and affordable” way.
“NB-IoT delivers signal strength that can penetrate through concrete, underwater, underground and deep into infrastructure,” Pollard added.
“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.
“Kiwi entrepreneurs and developers have been anticipating the arrival of these technologies and are responding with enthusiasm to the launch. We have some pilot projects already underway.”
Kiwi case studies
One local example is in Punakaiki, in which local volunteer group Predator Free Punakaiki is working to create a native bird sanctuary.
The company has leveraged an IoT pest control solution, MinkPolice, which already has a “track record of success” in Europe.
“Within each trap there is a SIM that connects via Vodafone’s IoT network to the MinkPolice smart-phone application,” explained Heiko Kaiser, managing director of MinkPolice.
“Volunteers receive a notification whenever a trap is activated which sends them to the exact location of that trap, to clear it, reset it, and trap more pests more often.
“Initially, the traps used Vodafone’s global SIM on the 2G IoT network, but we’re about to move to the NB-IoT network, which will enable the volunteers to set traps in more remote areas of the sanctuary knowing they’ll still have reliable connectivity.”
Meanwhile, Motiv, an Auckland-based IoT solutions company, has designed customised hardware and a web-based scheduling and control system to manage and monitor the status of electronic school road signs across Auckland.
Previously, schools were responsible for manually monitoring the signs, including switching them on and off.
At the same time, Auckland Transport wanted visibility of their fleet condition so that they could explore automated maintenance models that would increase service uptime.
“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,” added Ben Birch, managing director of Motiv Solutions.
“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.
“The LTE-M network offers a powerful combination of low power and high throughput meaning we have total control over how much power we use and how much data we want to collect.
“The solution offers peace of mind to schools who can now operate the signs stress-free knowing they have the support of Auckland Transport should the signs become damaged or stop operating properly.”