M2M Tips - Deploying Cellular IoT Devices in Australia

By Special Guest
James Mack, General Manager, M2M One
July 08, 2015

Over the past 15 years, the team at M2M Connectivity & M2M One have coached, consulted, celebrated and at times commiserated with thousands of hopeful developers trying to make their mark on the M2M and IoT landscape in Australia.

This series of blog posts is designed to pass on some M2M 101 style tips to developers looking to get into the space.

Traditionally, we have dealt with Australian and New Zealand-based developers building products specifically designed to meet the unique challenges in terms of coverage, environment and demand in Australia. With the increasing global nature of M2M/IoT, we’ve seen our customer base grow to include two new additions:

  • International companies looking to bring their solutions to the Australian market.
  • Local entrepreneurs with a great product idea sourcing or developing hardware using international manufacturers.

Mobile Coverage

Australia is unique in that a large portion of the country is relatively unpopulated or uninhabitable. Around 70 percent of the country’s landmass does not have mobile coverage and can only be covered by satellite. The country’s largest mobile network operator Telstra covers roughly 28 to 30 percent of Australia and 99.5 percent of the population; the second largest operator Optus covers 13 to 15 percent of the land and 98.5 percent of people. Telstra covers roughly an extra 1 million square kilometers of the country to cover an additional 1 percent of the population.

Mobile Network Operators

The 3 operators in Australia are:

  • Telstra – The countries largest mobile network covering over 2.3 million square kilometers (roughly 28-30% of the country) and 99.5% of the population.
  • Optus – The countries second largest mobile network covering over 1.3 million square kilometers (Roughly 13-15% of the country) and 98.5% of the population.
  • Vodafone – Vodafone don’t typically publish their coverage statistics, but have recently entered into a 3G tower sharing agreement with Optus so you can estimate that their coverage is similar to Optus.

Operating Frequencies

Australian carriers operate 2G, 3G & LTE networks – CDMA was decommissioned in 2008. Telstra are following AT&T’s model of closing down 2G to re-farm spectrum for LTE/4G and, while other carriers have yet to comment, we expect them to do the same in time.

Roaming SIMs in Australia

If you are buying SIMs from an international carrier or MVNO, it is important to note that Telstra does not allow permanent roaming on their network and can exercise the right to remove services from their network that have been roaming for over 6 months in any 12 month period.

For permanent M2M/IoT applications that require the Telstra network your best option is to speak to M2M One or Telstra directly.

Hardware Approvals

All M2M/IoT hardware using an Australian mobile network should be RCM-approved. This is similar to European (CE) approval and US (FCC) approval. In some cases, devices with CE or FCC approval can have approval time and costs reduced. If a device is being worn on the body in also needs to undergo SAR testing for radiation levels.

IP Addressing

Public IP Address space is limited in Australia and most mobile carriers will not provide any sort of publically addressable IP for M2M/IoT devices. Your best bet is to use public Internet access or have a private IP range built on an APN for you.

Operating Costs

We find that a majority of customers that come from international markets, particularly Europe or Asia find the price of Data, SMS & Voice in Australia quite expensive compared to their home market. It is therefore important for anyone bringing a solution into Australia to consider how to best use their data allowance.

There you have it, a quick practical overview on deploying M2M or IoT hardware in Australia. In our next article we will give a more general overview of the Australian M2M market, pointing out the areas that are saturated and those that are growing, from our experience.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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