FastNet, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Telkom Group, has announced their progress on Africa’s first dedicated M2M network. The network, christened “FastNet LoRa”, is designed for the low power, low throughput nature of M2M applications, and offers network based security. This offers developers and customers greater flexibility for their M2M applications relative to public GSM or satellite technologies.
Speaking at the recent MyWorld of Tomorrow conference and exhibition, FastNet said that coverage rollout is progressing well into Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN, covering a map area of South Africa of 8500km2. This represents about 40% thus far of the economically active population in South Africa (Census 2011). Several developers have already started working with FastNet on network integration, making FastNet a pioneering IoT enabler for the South African market.
More about LoRa
According to John Myers, CEO of Swiftnet, t/a FastNet, LoRa is a long-range, wide area network technology developed by Swiss semi-conductor manufacturer Semtech, and boasts extremely long battery life (up to 10 years) compared to GSM, over a range of up to 15km, with great indoor penetration. FastNet is a founding member of the LoRa Alliance, a consortium of telcos, vendors and interested parties, and is enhancing the core backend management platform internally.
Applications seen on LoRa include smart water metering, distribution leak detection, irrigation and energy load balancing. Once features such as localisation are released by the Alliance, tracking through the network will yield accuracies comparable to existing technologies. This is part of FastNet’s rollout planning as the LoRa standard reaches maturity.
Presently, developers are given technical and commercial information once they register via the FastNet developer portal, http://developer.fastnet.co.za. Beyond this, FastNet is considering a fully-fledged academy including greater commercial support for development, and later partner agreements for channels into enterprises in South Africa.
FastNet’s journey to full IoT solution provider
For enterprise customers, FastNet currently offers a service delivery model for IoT in retail, fleet and logistics, energy, agri business and building management companies. To these sectors, FastNet offers applications such as high value asset management, condition monitoring and generator / refrigeration monitoring and control. The solution offerings include data connectivity, network field services and platforms for measurement, control and analytics.
The company is expanding its product range across new applications and verticals, and making certain that its business model evolves to service the needs of South African entities seeking efficiency, compliance or smarter products from IoT. This means investments and greater focus from FastNet to offer specific customers solutions that are fit for purpose.