Telstra has activated Australia’s largest internet of things (IoT) network, which will be able to reach 99% of the population.

The telco switched on the network last month, under the guidance of partner Ericsson, using the CAT-M1 technology, which operates over the existing 4GX network, and enables IoT devices to have greater reach.

Telstra Networks Group Managing Director, Mike Wright, said the new network, which is one of the largest of its type in the world, would benefit regional customers.

“Industry in regional and rural Australia is likely to benefit most from these technologies and extensive coverage, as CAT-M1 and NB [narrow band] IoT are ideally suited to use cases like agriculture, transportation and mining,” he said.

“This is a network that makes the future possible for regional and rural Australia. At Telstra, we know connectivity is vital to regional, rural and remote communities, which is why we have consistently weighted network investments towards extending coverage.”

As well as increasing connectivity for rural customers, the new networks allows for over-the-air voice over LTE (VoLTE) calls to be made on emerging IoT devices.

“When standard voice calls are made on a VoLTE-enabled handset, VoLTE works by integrating the call into the 4G data stream,” Wright said.

“When it comes to IoT, adding VoLTE to CAT-M1 devices means those devices will have the ability to make voice calls to other devices, applications, and use cases which could benefit from voice.”

This new coverage capability will enable a range of new devices to enter the mainstream.

Telstra has already begun capitalising on these capabilities, launching ‘Telstra One Number’ -- its first embedded SIM (eSIM) technology last month.

This allow users to connect a wearable device, such as a smartwatch, to an existing mobile number without using Bluetooth.

Telstra customers will now be able to put their mobile phone and wearable on the same bill.

“This new embedded SIM card technology means our customers will soon be able to make and receive phone calls, and check and send text messages from their compatible wearable device without needing their smartphone with them,” said Telstra Home and Premium Services Executive Director, John Chambers.

Telstra One Number can now be used with supported devices.