The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Radio Spectrum Management arm (RSM) has made frequencies in the 210 – 220MHz range available for IoT testbed applications until February 2022.
The move follows a consultation process undertaken in 2018 as part of RSM's review of the 174 – 230MHz spectrum freed up from the shutdown of analogue television broadcasting.
The rules for the testbed stipulate a channel width of 200kHz with channels to be shared between multiple users. Channel hopping will be permissible, but not channel aggregation.
RSM says most IoT services operating in sub-1GHz band have an emission bandwidth less than 200 kHz, so the 200kHz will allow for a significant number of current popular IoT protocols to be trialled in the band.
RSM will not be mandating any specific technology or standard. However, applicants will be required to specify the technology they intend to use. Licences will be issued for one year.
Applicants will be required to lodge an application for each Territorial Local Authority in which they want to operate. Territorial Local Authorities include county councils, city and borough councils, town councils and road boards.
Licences will be issued on a first-come-first-served basis. Additional licences may be granted for up to two subsequent years. RSM say it anticipates a review 2022 to decide the future use of the band.
RSM's consultation on the testbeds received six submissions, including ones from Kordia, Microsoft, smart metering company Metrix and the Radio Broadcasters Assocation (RBA).
Kordia, Microsoft and Metrix were supportive of the plan, but the RBA argued that the frequencies should be retained for broadcasting.
"We are not aware of any machine-to-machine (internet of things) applications that present a greater need than the transition of broadcasting to digital," it said.
According to RBA the testbed sets "a dangerous precedent … whereby the IoT trial triggers a slew of requests for more spectrum needing to be allocated for similar devices … It should be noted that the RBA intends starting a working group in 2019 to consider the most practical and cost-effective model for introducing DAB+ [digital audio broadcasting] in New Zealand."