While not unexpected, the recent growth of the narrowband Internet-of-Things (NB-IoT) market has been significant, resulting in more telecommunications operators around the world turning to this cellular network technology as the ideal means to drive IoT adoption across enterprises. According to local IoT specialist, Trinity IoT, even local operators are looking at rolling out NB-IoT solutions, with global shipments of these devices expected to top 613 million units by the end of 2023.
The GSMA defines NB-IoT as “a standards-based low power wide area (LPWA) technology developed to enable a wide range of new IoT devices and services. NB-IoT significantly improves the power consumption of user devices, system capacity and spectrum efficiency, especially in deep coverage. Battery life of more than 10 years can be supported for a wide range of use-cases.”
Despite this, Trinity says NB-IoT still remains elusive in South Africa. Vodacom and MTN are keen to roll out these solutions to enable the public and private sectors to harness this technology as an enabler for anything from smart city applications and smart agriculture, to manufacturing automation and more. But until such time as NB-IoT becomes widely available, decision-makers need to remain focused on the only viable cellular options for IoT at this time, namely 3G and 4G.
“Fortunately, the mobile operators have continually expanded and enhanced GSM coverage across the country. With 99,8% of South Africans having access to 3G and 96,4% to 4G/LTE coverage, IoT is something that can be embraced at scale,” asserts Ross Hickey, founder and CEO of Trinity IoT. “However, it can be a costly exercise given the high cost of mobile data in the country. Companies need to have tools to manage their IoT device real-estate. Managing the smartphone SIMs of employees can be a complex undertaking and while the size of data packets generated by IoT devices is small, imagine adding potentially thousands of these SIMs to the equation. One can easily understand how data costs can quickly escalate out of control if not governed correctly,”
To this end, Trinity IoT provides business and technology leaders with a myriad of tools designed to help them manage SIMs, whether as part of a mobile device strategy or a rapidly evolving IoT ecosystem. The software is designed to either provide a universal environment to manage SIMs in their entirety (for example all IoT-enabled devices) or individually (think employee smartphones).
Trinity-networked SIMs have a built-in network infrastructure that connects devices to a robust private cellular APN the moment they are powered on. Real-time SIM management is intuitive through the Trinity IoT platform, which lets enterprises manage their APN user base, assign quotas per MSISDN and configure threshold notifications. The Trinity environment is under 24/7 network surveillance, with comprehensive alerts and notifications designed to allow its engineers to rapidly respond to any upstream connectivity issues.
“The age of mainstream IoT is upon us to unlock value across industry sectors. Edge computing and the importance of IoT devices in a digitally-driven business landscape cannot be ignored. Companies need real-time access to data as close to the source as possible, and IoT allows for that. Our role is to help customers manage their SIMs and keep cellular data costs under control to achieve the best possible return on investment,” concludes Hickey.
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