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Self-monitoring trash cans & smart dairy herds: Spark rolls out IoT network

29 Mar 2018

For businesses wanting to jump on the Internet of Things (IoT) bandwagon, Spark’s long-range, low-power network is now up and running.

Businesses and local councils can use the network to connect things like vehicles, waterways, machinery, and carparks.

Sensors track these objects and send information over the network to the people managing them. For example, the volume of rubbish in a public bin, or water pH in a stream.

Spark says its long-range IoT network is an affordable alternative to sensors used for cellular networks. The network uses LoRaWAN technology which carries small amounts of data over long distances using less power than 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.

Spark’s general manager IoT Solutions, Michael Stribling says the rollout of the new network is a real milestone for Spark. The company has been testing LoRaWAN technology on trial sites for well over a year.

As a part of the LoRaWAN trial process, Spark has partnered with a range of organisations, including Actility for its ThingPark Wireless platform, and Kordia to deliver the physical network build and maintenance.

“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," Stribling continues. 

Currently, the network is available in 60% of New Zealand: Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Shannon, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Dunedin.

Sites in Hastings and Invercargill will go live in the next few weeks.

“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,” adds Stribling.

Levno has signed up at Spark’s first customer for the new network. The duo will work together to extend coverage beyond Spark’s planned areas, as Levno will use the LoRaWAN network to support its fuel tank monitoring sensors.

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