On Monday 1 November 2017 South African telecommunications company, Vodacom, announced that the companies first commercially available Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network is now operational in Gauteng. According to the firm, it is the first South African and one of the first African mobile network operators to announce the commercial availability of its NB-IoT network. The commercial rollout of NB-IoT is expected to accelerate IoT adoption rates, with Vodacom currently averaging 55 000 new IoT connections per month.
Earlier this year, Vodacom opened a laboratory to facilitate the development of propositions and applications relating to NB-IoT technology. Many customers and partners have since been working closely with Vodacom to test the technology at the lab with great success.
Developers, partners and customers are now able to build and launch Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) solutions based on Vodacom’s NB-IoT eco-system in South Africa. LPWA describes a category of wireless communication technologies designed to support IoT deployments and is seen as a catalyst for the next wave of connected “things” as these networks can communicate with devices where radio infiltration has not previously been possible. NB-IoT is one of a number of different technologies that have been developed to fulfil LPWA requirements and is expected to dominate this space over time as the eco-system of devices matures.
Deon Liebenberg, Managing Executive for the Internet of Things at Vodacom, speaking on the announcement said, “Vodacom is the first South African mobile network provider to announce the commercial availability of NB-IoT. We are ready to on-board customers, partners and developers who are in a position to deploy NB-IoT projects. We are proud that commercial NB-IoT will be carried for the first time on South Africa’s best network.”
Vodacom’s dedicated IoT division recently partnered with global technology solution provider PTC to implement a local version of its ThingWorx IoT platform. According to the company, this IoT enablement platform brings end-to-end capability in the value chain, allowing the development of new IoT applications and solutions.
Vodacom believes that the commercial rollout of NB-IoT is expected to bring many advantages for customers, including licensed spectrum, enhanced sim security and scalability. Vodacom is leveraging its existing network assets, supported by experienced network support and global standard through Vodafone.
In September 2017, Vodacom announced that it now connects over three million “things”. The recent Vodafone IoT Barometer Report indicates that South Africans are confident that IoT will improve their business outcomes in future.