NB-IoT Asset Tracking in South Africa – Vodacom Network Coverage and Performance Testing

Shay Kettner

We’re excited to report Vodacom’s NB-IoT network coverage across South Africa is expanding, significantly broadening the adoption of IoT asset tracking applications in this region!

Greater network coverage, lower device costs, and superior device functionality is moving asset tracking towards a ‘mainstream’ enterprise requirement, with Cellular IoT set to dominate the asset tracking market.

What are the benefits of NB-IoT in asset tracking?

Narrowband-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is a low power wide area (LPWA) cellular network that uses similar narrowband radio technology as Sigfox and LoRaWAN® and is designed to connect low power IoT applications and devices.

Cellular LPWA networks are particularly well suited for battery-powered asset tracking applications, like trailer, bin, container, livestock and equipment tracking, as they support incredibly low power consumption, improved range, and better performance as compared with 2G, 3G, and even LoRaWAN and Sigfox networks, depending on the application.

  • Battery Life – Optimised for the infrequent transmission of small amounts of data, NB-IoT enables extremely long battery life – over 30x battery life on NB-IoT versus 2G
  • Range – Excellent range, including extended-range indoors
  • Performance – Cellular-grade wireless technology performance can handle more data than other LPWANs
  • OTA Device Management – NB-IoT supports two-way communication with devices which enables over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates and remote debugging – this is critical in battery-powered asset tracking, where we strive to minimise the amount of interaction with a device once deployed as much as possible!
  • Cost and Complexity – NB-IoT devices are generally less complex and cost less to produce, deploy, and manage, which means it’s now more affordable for businesses to track all their assets, not just vehicles
  • Future-Proof – NB-IoT networks are now formally recognized as 5G technologies, which means the technology will be supported long into the future

Status of Vodacom’s NB-IoT Rollout in South Africa

As of August 2021, Vodacom has launched NB-IoT services to 3,500 sites primarily across Guateng, Cape Town (CBD), and Durban (coast) with near-complete coverage of major hubs across the country and continuous rollout to outlying areas.

Vodacom NB-IoT Network Coverage Map

NB-IoT coverage map of South Africa as of August 2021

Digital Matter’s own NB-IoT network testing has also shown consistent coverage across Johannesburg:

NB-IoT Coverage SA 1

Strong and consistent NB-IoT coverage on a trip to Flag Boshielo Dam, Limpopo using our Indoor/Outdoor battery-powered asset tracker the Yabby Edge Cellular

NB IoT Coverage SA 2

Strong and consistent NB-IoT coverage in and around Johannesburg using our Indoor/Outdoor battery-powered asset tracker the Yabby Edge Cellular

Get Started with NB-IoT Asset Tracking in South Africa

As one of the first IoT hardware manufacturers to go to market with LTE-M/NB-IoT asset tracking devices, we have extensive experience designing and deploying devices on global cellular IoT networks.

Contact us to get started with our versatile range of LTE-M/NB-IoT asset tracking solutions and the largest portfolio of battery-powered asset tracking devices on the market.

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