Vodacom and MTN on Tuesday separately announced plans to deploy commercial narrowband “Internet of things” (IoT) networks in South Africa in 2017, with both companies planning to showcase the technology at an industry conference in Cape Town next week.
MTN was first out of the gate, with a statement saying that it has partnered with Huawei to develop a smart water metering solution that will allow the automated collection of utility meter data.
Through sensors installed in water meters, customers will be able to identify water leaks earlier, MTN said. Household water meters will automatically report data on a regular basis, reducing faults and operating expenses, it added.
MTN will use narrowband IoT technology from Huawei. The data gathered can be used to control waste water flows from each property, identify faults across the network and improve health and safety outcomes.
MTN’s group chief technology officer Babak Fouladi said the technology will in future be used for applications such as wildlife tracking, smart farms and smart parking.
Huawei said the technology extends the utilisation of IoT systems by making it more efficient to connect objects requiring long battery life. The low-power, wide-area technology will connect more objects to IoT networks, it said.
The smart water metering service from MTN will be commercially deployed in 2017. MTN and Huawei will have a demo of it at AfricaCom in Cape Town next week.
Vodacom, meanwhile, said it has also started a narrowband IoT build, with commercial deployment also expected in 2017.
The low-power, wide-area network technology allows for communication to devices where radio penetration has traditionally not been feasible and with a low power overhead, Vodacom said.
Narrowband IoT networks run on existing licensed spectrum, it added. It will allow the deployment of the “next wave of connected things, from water meters and environmental monitoring devices to smoke detector alarms”, said Vodacom Business chief officer Vuyani Jarana.
The company said a large portion of its network requires only a software upgrade to support the technology, so deploying it will be “relatively quick” and will be done based on demand.
Like MTN, Vodacom said it intends showcasing the technology at AfricaCom. — © 2016 NewsCentral Media