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Vodacom opens NB-IoT lab in Johannesburg

By , ITWeb
South Africa , 27 Jun 2017

Vodacom opens NB-IoT lab in Johannesburg

As part of its continued aggressive investment in the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile network operator Vodacom has opened a Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) laboratory at its Vodaworld campus to incubate and commercialise machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) systems using narrowband networking.

The mobile network operator announced in November 2016 that it has commenced its NB-IoT network build, which it will launch commercially in major metropolitan areas across South Africa later in 2017.

Vodacom describes NB-IoT as a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network technology which enables new use cases for IoT solutions – a market it considers to be a key strategic growth area of business.

"LPWA networks can communicate with devices where radio penetration has not previously been possible. LPWA devices are also power efficient, resulting in devices being deployed in-field with multi-year batteries," the company states.

Deon Liebenberg, Managing Executive for Vodacom IoT says "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."

In 2016, Huawei and Vodafone announced the opening of an NB-IoT open lab, to provide a pre-integration testing environment for application developers and device, module and chip manufacturers.

ITWeb quoted Vodacom Business Chief Officer Vuyani Jarana as saying new services enabled by NB-IOT will include the next wave of connected things and "the possibilities are limitless".

"This will push the boundaries of what is possible as well as bring services to the market that will genuinely transform lives and businesses in South Africa for the better," said Jarana.

Today, the live site, which is on the roof of Vodacom's data centre in Johannesburg, is the first step towards the development of a smart campus which will monitor and meter utilities on the network. Collection of this data will reduce the risks of water losses, mitigating both environmental sustainability and cost risks, the company explains.

According to the company, its NB-IoT network will leverage off its existing established network infrastructure, ensuring excellent coverage and reliable connectivity.

"A large portion of the network requires a software upgrade to support the technology, which means that deploying NB-IoT across Vodacom's existing base stations is a relatively fast roll-out, driven by geographic deployment and based on demand," it states.

"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," Liebenberg continues.

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