Huawei to deploy NB-IOT in Africa

01 September 2017 | Natalie Bannerman


Huawei confirms its plans to implement Africa’s first operational NB-IOT electrical energy smart metre.

In partnership with Janz CE and u-blox and UPGRID, the new solution combines various emerging technologies with smart metering of electrical energy. 

NOS, the Portuguese operator, became the first in Portugal to test the 4.5G-IOT technology on its network infrastructure in 2016. Now according to David Hoelscher, Huawei’s IoT marketing director, the company plans on doing the same in South Africa. Specifically looking at utility-based service delivery and application in areas such as electricity and water usage.

"Narrow-band IOT is standardised through 3GPP, which is part of the global standards-generation body GSMA, which means that any global technology company can come in and make products that meet that standardisation. That is really good because that allows the global industrialisation to push the prices down, competition is definitely our friend in this case," said Hoelscher.

He adds that carriers can repurpose their existing base stations NB-IOT, for separate coverage and connectivity for users and one for machines.

Other advantages of this Low Power Wide Area wireless access technology include a gain of 20db over conventional GSM networks and the ability to support over 100, 000 connections per cell. Resulting in strong connectivity and long reach and the capacity to accommodate more linked devices.

He goes so far as to say that this environment is made better through NB-IOT because the technology can utilise different equipment from different vendors, as a result of the GBPP standardisation.

"NB-IOT is really designed with the carrier in mind, says Hoelscher. The idea is that you can take a 200khz thin slice of spectrum and turn off your GPRS on that spectrum and turn on NB-IOT and so you can kind of gracefully migrate your users from GPRS or GSM into LTE, your human users, because LTE is going to be better and then start to migrate your current GSM network into NB-IOT. You can do that slice by slice, and so, as a carrier, you can kind of control this migration from 2G to 4G for humans, and then another migration, of human use to machine use for the current GSM spectrum.”

From an African perspective, all NB-IOT networks being deployed are able to upgrade to 5G technology once available and Huawei is currently in negotiations with prospective NB-IOT partners and service providers in the region.