Vodacom NB-IOT network goes live

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Deon Liebenberg, managing executive for the Internet of things at Vodacom.
Deon Liebenberg, managing executive for the Internet of things at Vodacom.

Vodacom's first commercially available narrowband Internet of things (NB-IOT) network is now operational in Gauteng.

Deon Liebenberg, managing executive for the Internet of things at Vodacom, says the operator is the first South African and one of the first African mobile network operators to announce the commercial availability of its NB-IOT network.

"We are ready to on-board customers, partners and developers who are in a position to deploy NB-IOT projects," he adds.

The commercial rollout of NB-IOT is expected to accelerate Internet of things (IOT) adoption rates, with Vodacom currently averaging 55 000 new IOT connections per month. It is also expected to bring advantages for customers, including licensed spectrum, enhanced SIM security and scalability.

"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," the operator says.

Vodacom's dedicated IOT division recently partnered with global technology solution provider PTC to implement a local version of its ThingWorx(R) IOT platform. This IOT enablement platform brings end-to-end capability in the value chain, allowing the development of new IOT applications and solutions.

Earlier this year, Vodacom also opened a laboratory to facilitate the development of propositions and applications relating to NB-IOT technology.

In September, Vodacom announced that it now connects over three million "things" in South Africa. The recent Vodafone IOT Barometer Report also indicates that South Africans are confident that IOT will improve their business outcomes in future.

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