IoT, NB IoT, Cat M1….. so many acronyms, but what does it all mean?

Right now I’m at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the largest mobile industry gathering in the world. As we expected, IoT demonstrations and technology are everywhere –in particular the ability to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT) over a 4G LTE network.

This is part of the 3GPP standard and the latest evolution of our mobile network, supported by a large existing ecosystem encompassing network size, device management and security. There are demonstrations set up for two 3GPP IoT technologies – NB IoT and Cat M1, each having different characteristics to support a large variety of different use cases.

In a nutshell:

  • IoT: The Internet of Things, put simply, is lots of “things” connected to the internet, even allowing those “things” to talk to each other.
  • Cat M1: The devices are low-complexity and that helps drive down their cost. They’re ideally suited to medium bitrate use cases for things such as vehicle telematics, voice support, consumer and healthcare wearables, and smart electricity metering
  • NB IoT: Narrowband IoT technology is for low bit rate technologies and targets both outdoor and deep indoor coverage, as well as lower cost and long battery life (up to 10 years) connected devices. Some example use cases include livestock and crop monitoring.

Today Telstra, together with Ericsson, made an announcement on our Cat M1 capability and took a huge step forward in supporting IoT.

We announced we are the first to complete network software deployment across Australia, via a live trial, and when activated, will enable one of the world’s largest Cat-M1 IoT footprint. Cat-M1 capability will allow Telstra to deploy a comprehensive range of Internet of Things (IoT) applications quickly and flexibly – accelerating the growth of Australia’s IoT ecosystem.

We’ve started testing this functionality at early trials in Australia, including at Pooley Wines in regional Tasmania, and have been working with AgTech company The Yield, who have an IoT-based data platform.

Some of the results of the Tasmanian trial are even being showcased in an Ericsson booth at Mobile World Congress via a remote demonstration of the live data. The demo shows that The Yield’s sensors deployed at the winery are collecting data on things like soil moisture and temperature, rainfall, solar radiation, and wind speed and director. This not only allows decisions to be made in real-time, but also provides predictive changes and trends for better decision making overall.

If you combine this technology with Telstra’s expansive 4G network which covers over 98% of the Australian population – the opportunities are endless and I’m excited to see how its use develops over the next few years as we deliver world class experiences for our customers.