Kathy Gibson reports from MyWorld of Tomorrow – There are a range of challenges in building an Internet of Things network – but they are surmountable.

The most important part of the equation is figuring out the customer’ value needs, says Prashil Gareeb of FastNet.

Part of this is ensuring that the customer has a full understanding around start-up and operating costs, he says. For instance, there could be huge network design costs, for instance, before the solution can be used.

“Skills is a gap,” he adds. Tying the business back into practical technology is a challenge; and skills need to span IT and networking as well as machine to machine (M2M) expertise.

Preparing the network is a challenge: the right network needs to be selected, along with the relevant technologies running on it.

And, at the end of the day, possibly the most important aspect is designing the most effective way of extracting and presenting value.

Use cases for customers revolve around either cost reduction, new revenue opportunities or compliance. FastNet has installed a number of successful IoT networks where customers are experiencing value.

Gareeb points out that South Africa is unusually challenged because of its geography. In addition, understanding the range of industries is a challenge. Suppliers have to find instanced where they can extend customer value via technology, demonstrating practical selling value.

Connectivity is one of the biggest challenges in South Africa, Gareeb says. It’s expensive and quite often the sensors that need to be networked are spread out.

FastNEt believes is has solved this challenge by selecting the correct network in each instance.

M2M technology tends to send data in small bursts once or twice an hour. Low power wide area networks (LP-WANs) are often suitable for these use cases. Although 3G or even LTE could be suitable in some instances, LP-WAN is generally the most suitable for wide area M2M connections.

FastNet specifically uses the LoRa (Long Range) LP-WAN network that is enabled by Semtech.

FastNet has launched the FastNet IoT Developer Academy that will help to skill up developers who wish to use the LoRa network.