Vodacom opens NB-IoT lab in Johannesburg

shutterstock 447476002The African mobile network operator Vodacom has opened a narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) laboratory at its Vodaworld campus in Johannesburg, to help incubate and commercialise machine-to-machine (M2M) and internet of things (IoT) system through narrowband networking

The announcement of the NB-IoT network build was made in November 2016, with the launch of the site planned in major metropolitan areas across South Africa by the end of 2017.

In partnership with Huawei, Vodacom’s launch of Africa’s first live NB-IoT site aims to provide a network testing environment for the software developers and devices including the module and chip manufacturer.

As a part of Vodacom’s continued investment in the expansion of IoT offerings, the launch of NB-IoT is aimed to add to the key strategic growth opportunities for the businesses.

NB-IoT is a low power wide area (LPWA) network technology which enables new use cases for IoT solutions.

Vodacom described that the LPWA networks are designed to communicate with devices where radio penetration were not possible before. In addition, the devices are also power-efficient, resulting in devices being deployed in-field with multi-year batteries.

“Vodacom's NB-IoT lab provides a controlled test environment and framework for customers and developers to develop hardware and applications as well as test their end point devices on the NB-IoT network,” said Deon Liebenberg, managing executive for Vodacom IoT.

Through this live site, Vodacom hopes to configure a smart campus which will monitor and meter utilities on the network, aiming to help in reducing the risks of water losses, mitigating both environmental sustainability and cost risks.

The NB-IoT network is expected to reform the existing network infrastructure system of the company, focusing on continuous network connectivity issues.

Liebenberg further commented, "Vodacom is investing heavily in South Africa's NB-IoT ecosystem and we look forward to collaborating with developers and customers to realise its potential.”

“Our ultimate goal is to nurture an ecosystem of developers, engineers and entrepreneurs for NB-IoT applications on the continent,” he added.

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