Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

South Africa's FastNet to develop IoT network for low-power applications

Iain Morris
November 6, 2014
South Africa’s FastNet is reported to have announced plans to build a network intended specifically for Internet of Things (IoT) services.

The company, a subsidiary of South African operator Telkom (Pretoria), sees an opportunity to support the use of low-power, long-lasting devices providing connectivity in areas such as smart metering, industrial automation and asset tracking.

Like other operators, Telkom no doubt that by targeting the M2M market it can offset some of the revenue slowdown that is happening in the mainstream telecoms sector.

Forecasts from IMS Research indicate the number of web-connected devices in use globally will reach 22 billion by 2020, with more than half of these expected to be low-power devices requiring long battery life.

Technologies such as cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee may struggle to meet these requirements, according to a report from ITWeb.

Instead, Fastnet (Pretoria, South Africa) is planning to use so-called LoRa technology being developed by chipmaker Semtech.

The ITWeb report says the operator’s plan is to target devices and services that require a very long battery lifetime at a low price point.

“We believe that Semtech’s LoRa RF technology is the most appropriate choice to deploy IoT services thanks to its long range and secure, bidirectional communication capabilities,” said John Myers, FastNet’s chief executive, as quoted by ITWeb.

“LoRa satisfies the requirements of our customers for smart grid, industrial automation, asset tracking, metering, security and many other applications,” he added. “The value proposition of the LoRa technology is convincing major industries to deploy IoT applications and services which were previously unrealisable.”

According to Semtech, Fastnet’s move will allow application developers in the region to attach low cost monitoring and metering devices to the operator’s network without having to invest in their own wireless systems.

“We are very pleased that FastNet has chosen LoRa technology to provide a low power, long range RF network to enable the Internet of Things in South Africa,” said Marc Pegulu, the vice president of marketing for Semtech’s wireless sensing and timing business unit.

Semtech already claims to be working with other regional telecoms operators and ecosystem partners on promoting interoperability between public networks with the aim of spurring IoT development.
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