Vula Telematix, South Africa’s first Internet of Things (IoT) network operator, has hit a major milestone with coverage of four main South African cities with its IoT dedicated network.

“We have created coverage in Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Tshwane. We are now going to Nelson Mandela Bay,” Agnat Max Makgoale, CEO Vula Telematix, told Techfinancials in an interview.

He added that the company was also involved in several projects in smaller municipalities across the country.

The IoT is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

With a market valuation of more than $900 billion, both manufacturers and those looking to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are aware of its potential.

Estimates are that by 2020, there will be 50 billion things or IoT devices – smart cars, fridges, toasters, streetlights, heart monitors, chairs, door locks, etc. – connected to the Internet.

But some of this is not hot air, some companies are already deploying IoT solutions that save lives and empowering farmers to make money across the African continent.

This presents a massive opportunity for Vula Telematix – a majority owned subsidiary of Vula Investments Holdings.

Vula Investments is credited with great successes such as WBS which provided the connectivity for the first national lottery in South Africa, Uthingo.

WBS was bought by Multisource in November 2015 and this year was rebranded as “Rain“.

As early as 2004, Vula Investments built the first wireless data network in South Africa – iBurst.

Agnat Max Makgoale, CEO Vula Telematix
Agnat Max Makgoale, CEO Vula Telematix (Photo Credit: Vula Telematix)

“We are creating a blanket coverage. We want to create this platform hopefully South African businesses can begin to be developers of these IoT solutions, rather than be consumers of solutions, which come from China, Europe, US, etc,” Makgoale told Techfinancials.

Earlier in the year, Vula Telematix signed an exclusive agreement with US-based IoT specialist Ingenu to deploy its low power wide area (LPWA) technology. It was a de facto deployment for its IoT network in South Africa.

The Ingenu technology uses the globally available spectrum to builds IoT-focused wireless networks using its Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) technology.

It is purpose-built for Machine-to-Machines (M2M) and IoT connectivity, offering range, coverage, and capacity with low power requirements and longer-lasting battery life.

Ingenu notes that its RPMA technology is a proven standard for connecting IoT and M2M devices around the world, with more than 35 networks deployed over seven years.

In June, Ingenu also announced that it was expanding its network in Nigeria which has a population of about 184 million, providing connectivity for IoT and M2M applications including oil and gas, smart city, smart grid, agriculture, and asset tracking.

Vula Telematix is working with various partners to deploy IoT solutions on its network infrastructure.

“We should be exporting some of those solutions,” said Makgoale.

“I think it’s early enough in the game for South Africans to begin to take ownership of IoT and build solutions that can ultimately be exported.”

IOT business man hand working and internet of things (IoT) word diagram as concept
IOT business man hand working and internet of things (IoT) word diagram as concept (Photo Credit:

The IoT network provider has teamed up with a local partner that is developing and already seeking to export its IoT solution overseas.

“We have a partner that is already doing that. We have built a connected car solution and they are looking to export into Saudi Arabia. They are testing that IoT solution on our network,” said Makgoale.

The company competes with South Africa’s SqwidNet and Comsol in deploying IoT infrastructure, but the technology system is different.

SqwidNet’s IoT network is being built on technology developed by France’s Sigfox, which is a mobile style system that is able to listen to billions of objects broadcasting data, without the need to establish and maintain network connections.

While, Comsol is using LoRa Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) technology, which is ideal for the efficient and cost-effective monitoring and management of assets and infrastructure, these low power networks enable wireless connectivity for millions of sensors and smart devices over wide geographical areas.

These networks have already been deployed nationally in countries such as Netherlands, South Korea, and Japan with localised deployments in other countries around the world.


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