Comsol, the telecommunications company that has built a national open-access wireless broadband network for businesses and which plans to launch South Africa’s first 5G network next month on a trial basis, will soon spin off its Internet of things (IoT) network into a separate business.
CEO Iain Stevenson said in an interview with TechCentral on Wednesday that the company, whose shareholders include Nedbank, the Industrial Development Corporation and Andile Ngcaba’s Convergence Partners, along with management, has built an IoT network using the same high sites it’s utilised to roll out a national wireless broadband network over the past year.
The IoT network, which uses long-range, low-power LoRa technology in the unlicensed 868MHz band, will be spun off into a new business in which Comsol will be but one of several shareholders. This will happen early in the new year. The new business does not yet have a name, Stevenson said.
Comsol has spent the past year building a national high-speed open-access wireless network using licensed spectrum in the 28GHz band. It sells access to businesses on a wholesale basis through partners such as Internet Solutions and Vox.
“We raised all the cash and built the network and came in under budget and on time. With the surplus funds, we got board approval to build an IoT network as an overlay. It made sense to build it on the same infrastructure: it’s just another radio frequency device on the same infrastructure.”
The company will roll out more than a thousand high sites for the IoT network, Stevenson said.
“Comsol will retain an equity holding, but the business is going to be on its own, with its own name and a separate CEO and chief financial officer.”
The IoT market in South Africa is becoming increasingly crowded. Not only are the big mobile operators MTN and Vodacom deploying IoT networks, but several other players are also building IoT infrastructure, including Dark Fibre Fibre, through subsidiary Sigfox, and Vula Investments, through subsidiary Vula Telematix. — © 2017 NewsCentral Media