Spark LoRaWAN™ network across New Zealand
This means businesses and local councils can use the network to connect to things like vehicles, waterways, machinery and carparks. Sensors on these objects are able to send information over the network to the people managing the objects. Commands can also be sent back to sensors, telling them when to kick in or the kind of information to report on. For example, the volume of rubbish in a public bin, or water pH in a stream.
Michael Stribling, Spark’s General Manager IoT Solutions, said, “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.
“While we currently have 60% of rural and urban New Zealand covered, we’ll be working to extend that to 70% by July this year. We’re also looking to partner with organisations to extend coverage into areas where they need it.”
The network uses LoRaWAN™ technology, which carries small amounts of data over long distances, using less power than cellular networks. This makes it ideal for connecting objects far from power sources. For example, to monitor an outdoor carpark or an employee working in a remote area. Compared to cellular connectivity, Spark’s new long-range network is an affordable IoT option. It works with a wide range of low-cost sensor technologies that are significantly cheaper on average than sensors for cellular networks.
The cost to use the network is based on the number of sensors connected, and the number of messages those sensors send each month. For example, a dairy farm in the Manawatu wanting an hourly update on the location and body temperature of its cows will pay up to $1.79 per cow each month for connectivity. Designed for scale, the cost per connection decreases as the number of sensors increases.
Cities to get ‘smarter’ with LoRaWAN™
Spark 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. Now that the network has been switched on, councils are looking at how it can enable them to operate and maintain key infrastructure in smarter ways.
Direct Control, a local NZ solution provider offering smart city & building services, will look to utilise the new network for its analytics and smart metering technology, amongst other solutions. This technology is now available to towns and cities throughout the country.
Councils, Property Owners and Universities will be able to use the technology to manage metering and energy consumption remotely. This will enable them to respond faster to requests, save energy, reduce carbon emissions and monitor enviromental parameters.
Stribling said the new network will enable more IoT technologies from overseas, like smart metering, cold-chain monitoring, to be adopted here in New Zealand. It will also give New Zealand developers of IoT technologies the chance to launch their products here before taking them overseas.
“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. “It’s Spark’s vision to help New Zealand businesses find their edge here in New Zealand and overseas. Connected technologies play a big role in bridging the geographical barriers we face as a country. It’s critical for us that the networks we provide enable New Zealand businesses to reach the world,” Stribling said.