Telstra and Ericsson demo long range NB-IoT with only a software upgrade

Editor’s Note: Caveat Emptor!

A demo or test is NOT equivalent to performance in a production network!

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Telstra and Swedish telecom equipment and managed services vendor Ericsson have set a new record for NB-IoT range.  Ericsson’s breakthrough distance extends the 3GPP NB-IoT spec based limit from around 40km out to 100km.  Ericsson says the increased distance was obtained without any changes to physical NB-IoT hardware (only a software upgrade was required).

Emilio Romeo, Ericsson’s MD of Australia and New Zealand, says:

“This game-changing capability builds on Ericsson’s long history of delivering extended range cellular solutions.  We’re partnering with Telstra to deliver its customers a world-leading capability in NB-IoT extended range cells and demonstrating the huge opportunity that IoT represents in rural and regional areas for both Australia and globally, particularly for logistics and agriculture.”

The upgrade builds upon Telstra’s existing leadership in Australia in NB-IoT as the only provider in the country, and one of the first globally, to offer both NB-IoT and LTE Cat M1 technologies.  LTE Cat M1 was launched by Telstra last year and covered approximately three million square kilometres. This was followed by the launch of NB-IoT in January 2018.

With this latest innovation, Telstra’s NB-IoT network covers around three and a half million square kilometres; providing enhanced accessibility and reliability.

Channa Seneviratne, Telstra’s Executive Director of Network Engineering, comments:

“Telstra already had Australia’s largest IoT coverage with LTE Cat M1 across our 4G metro, regional and rural coverage footprint. With this NB-IoT extended range feature, we have now extended our coverage to more than three and a half million square kilometres, delivering our customers the best IoT coverage and capability in the country.

Once again Telstra, working closely in partnership with Ericsson, has delivered innovation that ensures the benefits of IoT technology can be enjoyed by the largest number of Australians, not just those in the cities and towns.”

Telstra and Ericsson first demonstrated the extended range NB-IoT network capabilities during the Telstra Vantage Conference held at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre on September 19-20, 2018.

“Whether it’s leakage prevention with smart water meters or environmental monitoring to keep our oceans clean and estuaries safe from contaminants, water utilities across the country are using IoT technology to better track, monitor, and conserve water,” the company said during the conference.

A Captis NB-IoT temperature sensor was used for the demo, located 94km from the Telstra base station on Mount Cenn Cruaich in New South Wales, Australia.

The performance of the network in reaching difficult areas was demonstrated with a sensor placed three floors below ground level in an underground parking lot in central Sydney that was beyond the reach of regular LTE signals.

Telstra and Ericsson have set a new record for NB-IoT range with nothing more than software upgrades according to the companies.

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In July, Ericsson, Telstra and Intel made the first end to end 5G non-standalone 3GPP data call over a commercial mobile network.  That data call, completed at Telstra’s 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast of Australia, was the first of its kind made over the 3.5GHz spectrum.

References:

https://www.telecomstechnews.com/news/2018/sep/27/telstra-ericsson-nb-iot-range/