Telstra quietly switches on internet of things network

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Telstra quietly switches on internet of things network
Mike Wright, Telstra

Telstra quietly switched on its internet of things network last month, which the telco claimed was already larger than its 4G network.

The network was upgraded with long-time partner Ericsson to enable CAT-M1 devices, a technology that allows low-power, wide-area technology to connect to licensed spectrum.

CAT-M1 devices can run on a single battery for years and are suitable for mobility, voice support and moderate bitrates in the order of hundreds of Kbps, such as vehicle telematics, asset tracking, consumer and healthcare wearables and smart electricity metering.

Telstra’s IoT network covers three million square kilometres across Australia and 99 percent of the population.

Brendon Riley, Telstra group executive of global enterprise and services, said the telco’s IoT network may possibly be the largest in the world.

“We’re already strong today, particularly in logistics. Today, if we look at everything we’ve got connected across logistics and meters, there are about 2.1 million devices that are connected to the IoT network,” he said, during the opening keynote of Telstra Vantage in Melbourne.

He said Telstra would "progressively bring out more platforms and more capabilities to light this up" in the coming weeks and months.

The network is being used by customers for location services, vehicles and logistics and is popular in industries such as agriculture and mining operations, he added.

The telco’s new security operations centre, which was opened last month, will monitor the IoT network.

Voice over LTE

Telstra managing director networks Mike Wright used Vantage to announce that the telco ran its first voice over LTE (VoLTE) call over the IoT network in a partnership with Qualcomm and Ericson.

“When standard voice calls are made on a VoLTE-enabled handset, VoLTE works by integrating the call into the 4G data stream. 

"When it comes to IoT, adding VoLTE to CAT M1 devices means those devices will have the ability to make voice calls to other devices, applications and use cases which could benefit from voice,” Wright wrote in a blog post after the announcement.

“This will pave the way for new types of devices, applications and services for both consumers and enterprise.”

Wright used Telstra’s recent eSIM technology as an example, which allows wearables such as the soon-to-be launched Apple Watch to operate over Telstra’s 4G network.

The journalist travelled to Telstra Vantage as a guest of Telstra.

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