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IoT Innovation Network Interview: Gerhard Loots, Head of IoT, Telstra

IoT Interview: Gerhard Loots, Head of IoT, Telstra

Piers Hogarth-Scott, KPMG Australia’s National IoT Practice Leader, interviews established and emerging players drawn from the IoT ecosystem with the aim of engaging, challenging and probing discussion with the true innovators of IoT in Australia.

Piers Hogarth-Scott

Partner, KPMG Digital Delta and National Leader, Internet of Things

KPMG Australia


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Piers Hogarth-Scott interviews Telstra’s Head of IoT and M2M, Gerhard Loots about Telstra’s IoT communications networks and the recent launch of the Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) network.

Let’s hear what Gerhard has to say.

"IoT for Australia presents a number of opportunities for us to develop new technologies, to increase efficiencies and to address risks, not only locally but also abroad. Australia has a history of developing really good technology in health, and things like health and safety and compliance. We believe if we can leverage that it will give us the ability to build products that are not only useable here but also across the border.

The benefit of IoT as it is outlined in Industry 4.0, is that the element that it brings to the table is precision. If you can measure things you can manage them better. So from that perspective in the Australian market that is heavy on property prices, heavy on labour costs, being able to automate some of these things to drive to better data insights, we’d expect to see economic benefits straight off the bat.

So NB-IoT brings three pieces of additional technology to the table – it brings increased penetration, increased coverage and lower battery life. If we apply that in the context of cities that really serves use cases where we have lower frequency of data transmission such as sensors, parking sensors, water meters. If we apply it in the context of agriculture it is very suitable for tracking things like cows or implements on a farm. In addition, when you start tying that up to the supply chain, being able to track a pallet from the farm straight into the retail shop will be enabled by NB-IoT.

The benefit of NB-IoT is that it is a LTE-based standard which is developed and maintained by the 3GPP organisation which is a mobile association body, and what flows from that is, firstly you have a product roadmap for the future which enables our partners to develop with confidence and pre-knowledge of what is coming. In addition to that the security of LTE is transferred onto NB-IoT meaning that you have telco grade security wrapped around your solutions. And lastly we are operating in a licensed spectrum which ensures that communication and quality is superior to non-licensed spectrum communications.

At present we have deployed NB-IoT across all major capitals in Australia and a number of regional town centres. The future plans for NB-IoT roll-out is that we will continue to upgrade our existing cellular infrastructure to accommodate this new protocol on the existing towers. So you would expect to see NB-IoT wherever there is a Telstra signal at present.

Beyond NB-IoT connectivity, Telstra sees ourselves playing a major role in the IoT connectivity ecosystem. Connecting devices brings complexities to our customers in terms of managing the connectivity, managing the devices but ultimately also leading to insights. People don’t want data, they want insights. We see our role moving up the stack and focusing on areas where we can add a lot of value to our existing customers and you’ll see our continuous focus on things like transport, utilities and helping customer solve problems along the way."

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