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IoT moves forward in South Africa with first ever Cat-M1 test

12 Sep 2017

South Africa’s Internet of Things (IOT) aspirations have taken another step forward after Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies successfully completed a lab trial for a Cat-M1 solution with MTN South Africa.

According to the companies, this is the first Cat-M1 test implementation ever on the African continent, representing just the first stage of a wider scope of test activity.

The trial consists of IoT devices that are integrated with a Qualcomm with a Qualcomm MDM9206 global multimode LTE IoT modem and the Ericsson Massive IoT Radio Access Network product.

“Today, the majority of telco IoT revenue comes from machine-to-machine connectivity, but in the next five years, this will change to revenue from platforms, applications and services,” says Ericsson’s president for the Middle East and Africa, Rafiah Ibrahim.

“This trial ensures MTN South Africa will capture new revenue streams and deliver the best experience to its customers.”

The companies assert the successful test will help MTN in its technological IoT advancements, preparing it for a new wave of solutions that can be implemented in the near future - MTN South Africa will continue trialling devices and applications for Cat-M1 in its Test Bed lab.

Ericsson says cellular IoT technologies like Cat-M1 and their evolution into 5G set a a solid foundation for massive IoT by reducing complexity, lowering power consumption, expanding coverage, and increasing device density.

“This trial supports the first wave of IoT use cases requiring extended coverage and battery life, compared to today’s baseline 2G/GSM and LTE,” says Qualcomm’s vice president of business development in South Africa, James Munn.

“Our MDM9206 global multimode LTE IoT modem, designed to support LTE Cat M1, NB-1 and E-GPRS and global RF bands, brings many enhancements and optimizations to LTE that can help reduce IoT complexity, up to ten years of battery life and low device costs, and support operators such as MTN South Africa.”

Further benefits of Cat-M1 include the enablement of advanced IoT applications by providing hundreds of kilobits per second in throughput, mobility, and VoLTE support – example include smart watches or fitness bands with integrated voice communications services, pet tracking devices, point of sale terminals, vending machines and vehicle tracking with emergency calling support.

CTIO at MTN South Africa, Giovanni Chiarelli says Cat-M1 provides key advantages of low-cost devices, long battery life, extended coverage and supports a wide range of use cases.

“The successful trial, in conjunction with Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, proves that both companies have the ability to support new IoT services and technologies for MTN,” says Chiarelli.

“The initial use of this technology has been for tracking and reporting use cases that have benefited both consumer and business customers. At MTN we are providing the platform for these and future applications to enhance people’s lives.”

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