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MTN has today announced a dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) network that it suggests will “enhance security of business-critical information”.
LoRaWAN can be viewed as WAN’s low-power, low bit-rate cousin. It transfers less data than traditional WAN, but is used to connect devices that usually feature battery-powered sensors. NarrowBand-IoT, or NB-IoT, is typically used for indoor devices, and is allocated a slice of spectrum within the LTE band.
MTN’s new network will carry full support for both.
“[W]e have created a dedicated network that has its own core business support systems and operational support systems for all our M2M and IoT solutions,” explained Mariana Kruger, the GM of IoT at MTN Business.
“Our network allows us to separate our consumer traffic from our M2M [LoRaWAN] and IoT related traffic. This is because we understand that, in this environment, the communications that are coming from these machines can include data from power utilities or vehicles in transit.”
Kruger cited the data’s “criticality” as a reason for the creation of the network.
One particular use case takes this notion a step further: LoRaWAN is being trialled as a tool to “combat rhino poaching”.
“The intention behind this is to attain information that can potentially help determine if there are poachers in the park. The intelligence gathered from the animals informs the park authorities if there are people or occurrences in the park, that are inconsistent with normal animal behaviour,” said Kruger.
The company was unable to disclose more information on the project citing the “safety of the rhinos”.
MTN Business’s dedicated IoT network could help combat rhino poaching in South Africa
Nevertheless, it did shed light on other projects using its IoT network, including the Cargo Connect project — which uses a digital GPS lock to secure transported goods — and a smart water metering system built alongside Huawei.
For consumers though, NB-IoT and CatM1 (enhanced machine-type communication) will be trialled in urban areas to buff the signal quality to consumers’ devices.
“What this technology allows us to do is to use dedicated communication channels to speak to devices. The frequency or spectrum allocated can strengthen the signal to these devices. For example, a normal GSM signal can only penetrate two metres through a wall,” explained Kruger.
MTN Business hopes to extend this by six metres.
While the latter is predominantly aimed at enterprises, MTN Business stresses that its future lies with LoRaWAN and NB-IoT.
“Whether businesses choose to adopt it or not, technology is already going down that road,” concluded Kruger.