We’ve reported earlier suggestions that Telstra could be rolling out a low powered wide area network for IoT applications, and there’s new evidence from Telstra itself almost certainly confirming that to be the case, and soon.
Telstra is mounting an Internet of Things Challenge in Melbourne in November and on its web page for the event says it is building a “new kind of network” for the event.
The web page says: “We’re building a test network across the Melbourne CBD: optimised for all the things that don’t send much data. A thing connecting to this network could run for years on a small battery, fit into the palm of your hand and cost less than lunch.”
Support for devices that can run for up to a decade on an AA battery is one of the key benefits claimed for LPWAN networks such as LoRaWaN, which is being rolled out in Sydney by National Narrowband Network Company. Also expected to enter the Australian market is Sigfox, and US based Sensus recently announced a partnership with tower owner BAI to deploy its proprietary Flexnet technology.
Announcing the challenge in a blog post, Telstra CTO Vish Nandlall, said the challenge would be run in conjunction with the City of Melbourne and explained that cellular was not necessarily the best network for IoT.
“Connectivity is something Telstra knows a little bit about, as operators of Australia’s largest and fastest national mobile network. But bringing superior network technologies to our customers first also means thinking about how to connect things more efficiently when they might only need to send a few bytes.
“To help figure this out, we’re building a different kind of wireless network in Melbourne Central Business District. … Along with the City of Melbourne we are asking you to join in and build something that connects to it. It’s a new kind of network, one that we’re testing out, and we want to find out which things work best with it.”
Participants in the Telstra IoT Challenge will be given one week to “create a connected ’thing’ that improves life in the city.”
Telstra adds: ”Whether it’s a thing for business, a thing for the environment, a thing for safety, or a thing that makes you giggle is up to you. Finalists will pitch their solution to an expert panel, and be in the running for a great range or prizes.”
Participants will be required to do “a lot of coding.” Telstra says: “Collect data and send it to the Telstra Application Enablement Platform – then process, display, analyse or interact with your ‘thing’ from the cloud using straightforward APIs to bring your creation to life.”
They will be given “a fistful of sensors, switches, lights and connectors, an Arduino [an open source microcomputer] and a modem shield,” and can bring their own sensors and switches, with the proviso that “it’s got to be low power, and low cost.”