“While machine to machine (M2M) solutions have been in use in some sectors in South Africa for several years, many industries and small- to mid-sized businesses have not been able to harness the potential of IoT due to data costs, complexity, and critically – the battery power required to run the devices,” says Neil Hamilton, VP for Business Development of international low power IoT specialists Thingstream.
Thingstream, now expanding into South Africa via a local partner network, delivers a global IoT connectivity platform which connects via GSM networks using a unique combination of MQTT and USSD messaging protocols. “The beauty of this new technology extends beyond cost-saving,” says Hamilton. “Its simplicity and low power consumption is making it a compelling proposition or where IoT devices might be dispersed across a vast geographic area or situated in inaccessible locations. Because a low-power IoT field unit might need a new battery only every five years, low-power IoT systems become a feasible option for sectors such as agriculture, forestry, mining and logistics.”
Hamilton expects significant adoption of low-power IoT systems in South Africa, based on the reception Thingstream has received since its arrival in the country earlier this year. “Many companies have been waiting for the right IoT solutions to arrive, and we see massive opportunities for IoT growth in the country, as well as across Africa,” he says.
Sectors showing particular interest include vehicle tracking firms looking to update and reduce the cost of their existing systems; the manufacturing sector; and supply chain and logistics firms seeking enhanced security and more efficient supply chain and asset management. In addition, other new business cases are appearing practically weekly,” he says.
By 2025, more than 100 billion Internet of Things connected devices are predicted to be live, generating an overall revenue of close to $10 trillion, says Hamilton. This unprecedented growth looks poised to continue globally over the next few years, he says, with Africa moving quickly to leapfrog legacy technologies and capitalise on IoT’s potential too.
According to IDC, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) IoT market is set to grow 15% year on year, reaching $6.99 billion in 2018 and $12.62 billion by 2021, led by the manufacturing, transportation, and utilities industries.
“Everyone is excited about the business innovation low-power, low-cost IoT can enable, and Thingstream is now providing this revolutionary boxed connectivity to enable businesses to deploy more IoT devices, faster and more cost effectively,” he says.
Thingstream, building on parent company Myriad Group’s legacy of USSD expertise, harnesses the ubiquitous GSM network to deliver simple and secure IoT connectivity with international coverage and mobility, even in areas and sectors lacking internet connectivity. With out-of-the-box coverage in South Africa, no cross-border roaming costs and a fixed monthly cost as low as only $1 for 10,000 IoT messages, Thingstream makes IoT available to any size business.
Thingstream is fast growing its channel partner network in South Africa, collaborating with a range of partners who have existing large customer bases keen to harness IoT to reinvent and optimise their businesses.