Lake Macquarie's Internet of Things launched at Warners Bay

 ABOUT 90 guests were given a glimpse into the future on Monday when Lake Macquarie City Council officially unveiled its planned Internet of Things network with business arm Dantia and commercial partner National Narrowband Network Co.

As the Newcastle Herald reported on Monday, NNNCo has signed a 20-year contract with the council to use its real estate to install the transceivers at the heart of its Internet of Things network.

At a Dantia premises on Hillsborough Road, NNNCo showed off the two types of transceiver that will make up the network, while various potential users including Hunter Water, electrical firm Ampcontrol and spatial software firm Anditi displayed actual or potential uses of the network.

NNNCo chief executive and co-founder Rob Zagarella said the network would be built using 10 main transceivers and 10 smaller ones. The large transceivers were about the size of a shoe-box while the small ones could sit in the palm of a hand. Together, they could cover the 650 square kilometres of the Lake Macquarie local government area.

The federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, Paul Fletcher, said a lot of bold claims were made about “smart cities” and the Internet of Things but the Lake Macquarie network showed “the reality is catching up with the rhetoric”.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the roll-out meant the council was “sending a strong signal to business” that it was worth relocating to a region that had a competitive advantage in the form of the IoT network. Dantia chief executive Peter Francis said the “low power long range network” would allow a myriad of devices to “talk to each other” and would be built without taxpayers’ money “at a fraction of the cost of other IoT networks”.

Watching the launch was Geof Heydon, a 40-year veteran of the telecom industry and a co-founder of the Internet of Things Alliance Australia, a peak body formed in 2015 that has NNNCo as a member.

Mr Heydon said the frequencies used in the Internet of Things enabled signals to be carried a long distance at very low power rates, so that one of the transceivers used by NNNCo could cover a radius of 20 kilometres, which was far greater than mobile phone towers.

“The sensors send out very small amounts of power and the base stations receive very small amounts,” Mr Heydon said. To show how little energy was involved, he said a TV tower would send out 50,000 watts of power while an IoT transceiver was in the “milliwatts to a couple of watts, and then only for a very short period of time”.

He said the IoT would build business and household efficiencies in countless ways.