Spark expands IoT network choices with Cat-M1 launch

spark cat-M1 IoT
Image credit: Blue Planet Studio /

New Zealand incumbent telco Spark says it has switched on its second Internet of Things (IoT) network, which will run on its LTE network using LTE Cat-M1 technology.

The launch of Cat-M1 IoT follows the launch of Spark’s LoRa IoT network in March. Cat-M1 is one of two 3GPP standards for enabling LTE networks to support low-power IoT connectivity. The other is NB-IoT.

Spark’s Cat-M1 network – which the operator has been trialing since November last year – has been is now commercially available in main centers with a progressive nationwide rollout over the next six months. Spark says its LTE network covers 95% of the population.

Spark’s digital services lead Michael Striblingksays the new network will be a key enabler to the progressive rollout of smart metering by Landis+Gyr in New Zealand.

The company already has smart metering solutions in the country and opted to switch to Spark’s M1 network to take advantage of its broader coverage, said Landis+Gyr’s General Manager of Australia and New Zealand, Rodney Chaplin.

“[M1 technology] allows us to get to market quickly and provide utilities with a robust coverage to ensure the success of smart metering rollout,” he said.

Switching on the M1 network will enable other IoT technologies like smart cities and connected cars from overseas to be adopted in New Zealand, says Stribling.

“We’re working with customers on a broad range of use cases for M1,” he said. “Great examples include vehicle telematics, smart metering, smart health devices and smart cities applications such as lighting and environmental monitoring.”

Spark said deployment of its LoRa network is ongoing, with over 120 sites deployed and live across all major urban centers. The operator is targeting different use cases with each network, saying that Cat-M1 uses licensed spectrum(in this case, the 700 and 1800-MHz bands) and is well suited to IoT applications requiring low to medium data usage and long battery lifetimes, while LoRa used unlicensed spectrum and is ideally suited for simple data transmission and long battery lifetimes.

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