From drones to cars to kitchen appliances there’s one common feature shared by virtually everything at the Consumer Electronics Show this year – it is all connected.

Connecting everyday objects and enabling them to send and receive data is what we mean by the ‘Internet of Things’ or ‘IoT’. By putting real-time information and decision-making power about the world around us in our hands, IoT has the potential to transform the way we live and work.

At Telstra we are already supporting IoT – we connect more than two million IoT devices over our mobile network today and we offer connected lights, cameras and motion sensors on the Telstra Smart Home platform. It is only early days though and we expect the number and variety of IoT devices and applications to explode in the years ahead.

Underpinning the emergence of IoT will be the capability of mobile networks to connect millions more devices sending small volumes of data at very low power levels on a national scale. We have been investing in delivering this capability by enabling two new IoT technologies in our mobile network – Cat M1 and Narrowband.

This week we have announced that Narrowband IoT coverage is now available over Telstra’s mobile network in major Australian cities and many regional towns. This is in addition to the approximately three million square kilometres of Cat M1 IoT coverage we turned on in 2017.

We have long offered our customers Australia’s largest and fastest mobile network and now we have added the ability to support IoT devices, like sensors, trackers and alarms, that can sit inside machines and vehicles and reach deep inside buildings.*

This means Telstra is the only carrier in Australia and one of the first carriers in the world to offer both Narrowband and Cat M1 IoT technologies.

Cat M1 is well suited to applications with data in the 100s of kilobits per second with extended range and long battery life, such as personal health monitors or devices used to measure vehicle performance. Narrowband is better suited to applications sending even smaller amounts of data and operating with an even longer battery life, such as moisture sensors or livestock tracking devices.

These network capabilities are crucial but for IoT to truly take-off in Australia it will require a vibrant IoT ecosystem developing solutions designed for local conditions and solving problems for local businesses. In particular, this is a fantastic opportunity for Australian start-ups·to build IoT products and solutions operating on two internationally recognised technologies.

In this way, our investment in deploying both Cat M1 and Narrowband technologies is an investment in the IoT ecosystem in Australia, especially when considered alongside our Gurrowa Innovation Lab and muru-D start-up accelerator.

We would call on Australian developers and entrepreneurs to take advantage of Cat M1 and Narrowband technologies now as there are huge opportunities across a range of industries, from agriculture to mining to manufacturing to transport and logistics, for Australia to be a global IoT leader. But to succeed we need to move quickly.

* Australia’s fastest mobile network based on national average of combined 3G and 4G mobile speeds.