Mobile operator Vodacom has operationalised its first commercially available narrow-band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network in Gauteng.
The commercial roll-out of NB-IoT is expected to accelerate IoT adoption rates. Vodacom currently averages 55 000 new IoT connections a month.
“We are ready to onboard customers, partners and developers who are in a position to deploy NB-IoT projects,” said Vodacom IoT managing executive Deon Liebenberg.
This was in line with Vodacom’s plans to deploy its NB-IoT network across major metropolitan areas in South Africa this year to communicate with devices where radio penetration has traditionally not been feasible.
NB-IoT is considered one of the best technologies for low-powered wide-area (LPWA) networks, allowing for wide and deep coverage, and subsequently providing an additional 20 dB reach for areas where signals previously had difficulty penetrating.
“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 ecosystem of devices matures,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
NB-IoT networks run on a dedicated, licensed spectrum band and enable South Africans to participate in developing new solution sets for IoT and to work with the broader IoT industry to nurture an ecosystem of developers, engineers and entrepreneurs for NB-IoT applications.
“Developers, partners and customers are now able to build and launch LPWA solutions based on Vodacom's NB-IoT ecosystem in South Africa,” he explained.
Earlier this year, Vodacom opened a laboratory to facilitate the development of propositions and applications relating to NB-IoT technology, with customers and partners working closely with the operator to test the technology with “great success”.
“The commercial roll-out 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,” he concluded.
In September, Vodacom announced that it had surpassed the connection of three-million “things”.