Our IoT networks are joining the 5G family: future-proofing for years to come
The Internet of Things is the massive network of connected tech you probably never see. But despite its subtle appearance, IoT is rapidly changing the way we live.
We already have two complementary network layers that cater to large-scale IoT deployments: NB-IoT and LTE-M (also known as Cat-M1).
Our Internet of Things networks have gone from strength-to-strength in a matter of years being deployed nationally right across our 4G 700MHz network and covering three million square kilometres with LTE-M technology. With recent breakthroughs on maximum coverage distance per site for narrowband our NB-IoT coverage now reaches nearly four million square kilometres.
The latest news is that both our LTE-M and NB-IoT are now formally recognised as 5G technologies, meaning we have a big head start in helping to deliver massive IoT through the fifth-generation of mobile network development. The global mobile network standards body’s (3GPP) acceptance of our existing Narrowband (NB-IoT) and Cat M1 IoT technologies as 5G IoT technologies means we can continue to support these technologies even beyond the lifespan of 4G.
NB-IoT is designed for carrying very small packets from simple devices, peaking at transfer rates less than 200kbps. That’s perfect for devices that only need to send a tiny amount of data, like water management, location management, and industrial sensors.
LTE-M, meanwhile, is designed for more complex devices that require more frequent interaction with the network. LTE-M connections are better for devices that you need to be mobile and reporting multiple sets of data such as positioning information like asset tracking.
Since we launched our NB-IoT and LTE-M networks, we’ve helped government and businesses of all sizes around the country learn more and optimise their operations.
Farmers are using the network to track water supply and help regulate deliveries for less waste in their supply chain. Hospitals are using the network to track down life-saving equipment, helping save crucial time and valuable resources. Logistics companies are using it to track freight across the country and give customers better insights into how their deliveries move. We’re even selling a LTE-M-enabled device to help you keep better track of your expensive gear. And we’re only making the networks that power these incredible innovations better as time goes on. For example, we recently announced the expansion of our NB-IoT network to cover almost 4 million square kilometres, by extending site range from 100km up to 120km.
With both LTE-M and NB-IoT now adopted into the 5G family of technologies, they continue to drive a massive expansion of connected things. This expansion into the 5G future allows our customers to embrace LTE-M and NB-IoT with confidence in the technology’s long-term future.
5G is a networking shorthand for the fifth-generation of mobile connectivity standards. Each generation – from 1G through to 5G – has brought with it a brighter future. 5G will deliver speeds, network capacity, and via LTE-M and NB-IoT bring scale to potentially connect billions of things globally that we’d only previously dreamed of. The global standards recognition here means our NB-IoT and LTE-M networks won’t be supplanted by the new 5G technology. Instead, these technologies will go from strength-to-strength together as 5G technologies evolve, with the capability to power massive IoT projects around Australia and the world.
Future 5G capabilities are expected to move in lockstep with IoT networks to provide ultra-reliable low latency communications and by leveraging these capabilities of 5G for IoT, we’ll be able to expand the role of connected devices to enable incredible new advances both in nationwide and hyper-localised settings.
These massive IoT deployments can benefit just about every industry. Connected transport, drones, healthcare and infrastructure could communicate with centralised dashboards to help the nation move more smoothly. Meanwhile, IoT deployed in industrial settings such as factories where collaborative robotics could receive almost instantaneous responses from machines around them to enable faster and smarter manufacturing.
Global IoT connections will simultaneously increase in tandem from the 8.6 billion connections at the end of 2018, to an expected whopping 22.3 billion by 2024, all driven by NB-IoT, LTE-M and the future 5G Industrial IoT standard all delivered by 4G and 5G connectivity.
Connectivity – like 5G – brings with it exciting opportunities for business, health, safety and innovation. We’ll continue to improve our NB-IoT and LTE-M offerings as we roll-out 5G to more places in Australia.