National Narrowband Network Communications (NNN Co), the startup planning a wireless network based on the LoRaWAN technology for connecting IoT devices, expects to start trials in August with a network of 10 base stations covering an area of 50-100 square kilometres on Sydney’s North Shore, and major customers across a number of IoT application markets.
NNN Co cofounder, Rob Zagarella, told IoTAustralia: “We are in the final stages of preparing for the trial. There will be 10 base stations — we currently have three — and we are looking at an area around Macquarie Park and North Ryde of between 50 and 100 square kilometres.
“We have put together a team to design and manage the network and we have appointed Eric Hamilton [former CTO of Unwired, a company that built and operated Australia’s first broadband wireless network using proprietary technology and, later, WiMax].
“We are planning to run the trial from August to December and we have a number of large potential customers we are engaged with.”
The LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide-Area Network) technology is being promoted by the LoRa Alliance, backed by IBM and others. It made its debut at the CeBit show in Las Vegas in January and was formally launched at Mobile World Congress in March.
As IoTAustralia reported in June, the NNN Co Australian LoRaWAN network will be open for any organisation to use to connect its LoRa IoT devices to its own applications and systems.
Water, energy, lighting and parking targeted
He said the customers that opt to participate in the trail would determine the type of applications tested. “One of the key goals of the trial is to come out of it with commited large scale customer-driven rollouts across a number of verticals. We are selecting the applications to prove that this network can support different use case requirements.
“We are targeting water usage metering, energy monitoring and control and and we have a couple of local solutions from companies that have rolled out promotional solutions. These should prove that, by leveraging global standards and economies of scale ,we can drive local innovations.”
Zagarella said potential applications for the trial could also include smart city applications such as street light monitoring and control — “We have an end-to-end solution running on the network that is coming from offshore” — and parking space monitoring and management.”
LoRa gaining momentum
Zagarella has just returned from a LoRa Alliance member meeting in Paris and said he had been heartened by the rapid growth of the LoRaWAN ecosystem. “What came out of the meeting was a catalogue of approximately 100 solutions across a huge spectrum of IoT vertical markets that are now certified. … Another highlight was the ongoing addition of new devices and infrastructure and also new members, including Cisco, SK Telecom from Korea and [Taiwanese wireless network device manufacturer] Gemtek and Foxconn. “We were pleased to see regional players joining the Alliance, we think that will be important for us.”
LoRa certification in Australia
NNN Co is also working with the Alliance to have LoRa equipment certification services available in Australia. “We have had feedback from the various customer groups in Australia that certification can be quite cumbersome because it involves a lot of offshore logistics,” Zagarella said. “So we are partnering with organisations here that are experienced in certification and discussing with the LoRa Alliance how we can have a branch of that certification process out here for those solutions that use the NNN Co network. We think that is an important part of the process going forward.”