Ericsson, Qualcomm and MTN carry out first IoT Cat-M1 test in Africa

Ericsson, Qualcomm and MTN carry out first IoT Cat-M1 test in Africa

First CAT-M1 test in Africa for IoT
(Credit: Ericsson)

A trial of Cat-M1 technology in South Africa will pave the way for local telco MTN to capture new IoT-related revenue streams. 

Ericsson, Qualcomm and MTN South Africa have announced that they have concluded a successful trial of a Cat-M1 IoT network. Cat-M1 is an IoT-friendly version of LTE that can extend battery life, potentially by up to ten years.

This is the first such implementation of the technology on the African continent and paves the way for a wider test in future. The Cat-M1 trial uses IoT devices integrated with a Qualcomm MDM9206 global multimode LTE IoT modem and the Ericsson Massive IoT Radio Access Network product.

MTN South Africa will continue trialling devices and applications for Cat-M1 in its Test Bed lab.

According to Ericsson, Cat-M1 enables advanced IoT applications by providing hundreds of kilobits per second in throughput, mobility, and VoLTE (voice over LTE) support. It might be used in such IoT applications as 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.

Read more: Singtel to launch nationwide cellular IoT network in Singapore

Low-cost Cat-M1

The successful trial proves that Ericsson and Qualcomm have the ability to support new IoT services and technologies for MTN, said Giovanni Chiarelli, chief technology and information officer at MTN South Africa.

“Cat-M1 provides key advantages of low-cost devices, long battery life, extended coverage, and supports a wide range of use cases,” he explained.

Today, the bulk of telecom operators’ IoT revenue comes from machine-to-machine connectivity, said Rafiah Ibrahim, president of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, “but in the next five years, this will change to revenue from platforms, applications and services.”

This trial, he added, ensures that MTN South Africa will be able to capture new revenue streams and deliver the best experience to its customers.

James Munn, vice president of business development at Qualcomm South Africa said that the MDM9206 global multimode LTE IoT modem is designed to support LTE Cat-M1, NB-1 and E-GPRS and global RF bands, and “brings many enhancements and optimisations to LTE that can help reduce IoT complexity and up to ten years of battery life and low device costs”.

Read more: Ericsson launches new network services in preparation for massive IoT