Kathy Gibson reports from AfricaCom in Cape Town – MTN has launched Africa’s first dedicated network for the Internet of Things (IoT), spanning the continent and the Middle East.
Babak Fouladi, chief technology and information officer at MTN, this morning launched what he says is the first narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) network in Africa.
MTN already has 234,7-million subscribers across Africa. “We have pioneered connectivity across the continent and in the Middle East,” Fouladi says.
“And we have made significant investments in building large, modern networks.
“This network serves as the foundation for what we believe will be the next explosion – and have built our network to be ready for the IoT,” he adds.
“IoT is exciting; it is the future. We believe the next growth, the next explosion, will be in IoT.
“We are super excited to be the first to enabled narrow-band IoT, to build a better-connected Africa.”
A narrow-band network allows for low power consumption, wide and deep coverage, low cost and massive connectivity, Fouladi explains.
“Our network enables us to provide a low-powered, highly-scaled, long-lasting solution across the continent.”
MTN built the network in partnership with Huawei.
The value of telecommunications is growing, says Ian Mash, vice-president: business and network consulting at Huawei. And this is moving strongly to data, to the new world of digital business.
“The business is always changing, turning into a digital world,” he says.
All of the global telcos are moving into digital business, opening up APIs so that more partners can provide services on their networks.
Cloud, of course, is a big issue, with global cloud adoptions set to accelerate rapidly. By 2025, 85% of applications are expected to be in the cloud, so connectivity will be more important than ever.
Telcos face huge challenges in the cloud era, Mash adds. Chief among these is the lack of skills, but there are many others as well. The rewards could make it worthwhile, though, as each $1 invested in cloud results in $3 in connectivity.
The world is moving towards the Internet of Things (IoT), which is set to take off dramatically. New networks, such as NB-IoT will be needed to stimulate and accelerate IoT, with smart cities possibly the biggest application for IoT in the medium-term.
“There are huge numbers in terms of opportunity here,” Mash says. “The market is continuing to grow, and only the agile will survive. Opportunities exist in adjacent markets, particularly it he areas of cloud and IoT.”