Telstra uniquely positioned to capitalise on seismic shift of 5G, IoT.

TELSTRA has left the electronic security and home and business automation markets in no doubt of its intentions across seminal technological developments – namely, internet of things and 5G.

These 2 technologies are so entwined it should come as no surprise to find Australia’s biggest telco lining up ducks in these early stages. Telstra already has more than 2 million IoT devices connected via its Telstra Smart Home platform – that includes security sensors, surveillance cameras and lighting, among other things.

Telstra has hidden strengths in this part of the market. As well as planning a soft launch of 5G within 6 months, it’s the only Australian carrier to deliver NarrowbandIoT and Cat M1 services to metropolitan areas and rural centres. Both these technologies are the blood vessels of IoT.

NarrowbandIoT is designed to handle applications requiring tiny data packets and long battery life – sensors and tracking devices. Meanwhile, Cat M1 can support 100s of kilobits per second, as well as offering extended range and long battery life. It’s ideal for a wide range of applications – medical monitors, vehicle performance, quirky security sensors and plenty more.

The notion that security, automation and stateful sensors of all kinds will one day report directly from the field to cloud-based software solutions for actioning has been slow to sink in for many electronic security people but the ramifications are profound, the time-frame for delivery rapidly closing.

Just to illustrate the point recently, Telstra pulled the trigger on a new suite of Internet of Things (IoT) tracking solutions. These come with a consumer-facing Telstra Locator product and an enterprise-focused Track and Monitor solution.

Unsurprisingly, Telstra said the Telstra Locator, will be a subscription-based service and there are 3 locator tags that really flex some wireless muscle: A Bluetooth tag for small items like keys and purses; a rechargeable Wi-Fi tag with 4-6 weeks of battery life using more than 1 million Telstra Air hotspots designed to monitor pets, bikes, and bags. Meanwhile, a premium LTE tag utilising the Cat M1 IoT network will kick off early 2019. Importantly, all this tech is an in-house play.

“We’ve already deployed the most advanced IoT technology on our mobile network, we’re now focused on harnessing IoT technology to introduce services that make customers’ connected lives easier,” Telstra’s head of innovation and strategy for consumer and small business, Michele Garra, said.

Meanwhile, Gerhard Loots, head of IoT and M2M at Telstra, said the enterprise Track and Monitor device – designed to fit between the corrugation of shipping containers – is solar powered, with the battery lasting 4 months without sun.

According to Loots, Telstra has been trialling the device across “every major sector you can think of”, including retail, mining, health, government, agriculture, construction, utilities, transport, and roads.

While these first solutions are not strictly targeting the electronic security space, the potential is clear. Combined with NarrowbandIoT and a Cat M1 network covering 3 million square kilometres, it’s hard to ignore the obvious scope of Telstra’s business potential.

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