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.
Vodacom announced late last year that it has commenced its NB-IoT network build, which it will launch commercially in major metropolitan areas across South Africa later this year.
NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network technology which enables new use cases for IoT solutions. 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.
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.
“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.”
The opening of the lab follows Vodacom’s announcement last month that it has successfully completed the launch of Africa’s first live NB-IoT site, in partnership with Huawei. 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.
NB-IoT will enable the rollout of new services, including the next wave of connected Things. Vodacom’s 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.
In 2016, Huawei and Vodafone announced the opening of the world’s first Narrowband IoT open lab, to provide a pre-integration testing environment for application developers and device, module and chip manufacturers.