Kathy Gibson reports – Internet if Things (IoT) provider Sigfox South Africa was officially launched today, continuing the infrastructure and operations of the defunct Skwidnet.

Community Venture Investments Holdings has partnered with Fidelity ADT, Discovery Insure, Macrocomm and Buffett Investments to bankroll the new company.

Raymond Ndlovu, CEO of CIVH, says today’s launch is the result of one year of negotiation to secure new co-investors to maintain and sustain the Sigfox 0G network set up in South Africa by Skwidnet.

In June 2021, the business was restructured to position for long-term stability, viability and growth. “We recognized the importance of the network to our  customers, and had to ensure we kept it on,” he says.

“As we looked towards a new dawn, we had to ensure we continued to support it continuously,” Ndlovu says. “We maintain the philosophy of running an open network, recognising this is a national asset.”

In South Africa, Sigfox network is a Tier-1 0G network, operating a robust infrastructure with sophisticated monitoring equipment.

The launch of the new South Africa company comes as the French operations of Sigfox have been taken over by UnaBiz, ensuring continuity of technology development.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is here, and it’s here to stay,” Ndlovu says. “With the commitment of the partners to back this business, we can expect the massive growth of IoT in South Africa.”

Currently, 95% of the population is covered by the Sigfox network, and 90% of all national roads. A massive 3,47-million messages are sent per day.

The many ecosystem partners are engaged, and continues to grow, Ndlovu adds.

“We have every confidence in the future of the network. Several municipalities are deploying the technology in water and electricity monitors. And the vehicle recovery sector is reliant on this low-cost and reliable technology.

“There is a minimum of 1-million connected devices promised to the network in the foreseeable future, a massive statement of intent in the viability of the network.”

The Sigfox South Africa management team includes Sumeshin Naidoo as chief commercial officer, Andrew Heuvel as chief technology officer and Sean Laval as executive of network operations.

Many of the new team members were previously with Sqwidnet, and have kept the network running over the last year, Ndlovu points out.

Henri Bong, co-founder and CEO of UnaBiz, explains that the company operates national Sigfox networks in 73 countries.

UnaBiz took over the Sigfox operations, together with 223 patents and 1 500 customers. The networks around the world transact more than 80-million messages per day, across 10-million activated devices of 20-million devices registered.

UnaBiz aims to drive wide IoT adoption, and has a strategy in place to achieve this, starting with network compatibility.

“We want to stop the war between protocol, and are committed to building bridges between protocols,” Bong says.

“Imagine a word where all the LPWAN technologies are compatible. This is technically possible; the reason we are not doing it today is purely ego.

“We will stop that, and try for convergence, inspired by the cellular world. We will use software-defined radio in the firmware to make it possible. We will build bridges on the cloud, the network and the base station.”

Cost is another important driver for the widespread adoption of IoT, Bong adds. “Imaging if we can have net-generation disposable tracing solution that cost just a few cents.”

Sustainability has become a challenge, and is at the core of the UnaBiz strategy. Issues include device lifecycle and disposability, as well as the use of energy and the possibility of energy harvesting.