Next-Generation Networking is Transforming Sub-Saharan Africa

M2M Application in Sub-Saharan Africa

Rapid Migration to 3G/4G LTE Networks for IoT and M2M Applications

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a diverse region that covers 46 countries, with an extremely varied population both in terms of languages and culture as well as levels of population size and economic development. In the last few years the region has seen encouraging progress in fiscal growth, especially in mobile technology, which now accounts for a huge 6% of GDP and is on the rise. According to estimates, the communications technology industry will employ 3.5 million by 2020.

Mobile Network Operators across SSA have enjoyed strong revenue growth over the last few years. The region is now seeing a rapid migration to 3G/4G LTE networks as well as much more widespread network availability. Much is being done across the region to enable this rapid expansion. The timely release of the Digital Dividend spectrum has enabled ongoing network deployment by the operators and lower-cost devices are opening up these networks to a wider audience. Consumers, governments and businesses across SSA are rapidly adopting mobile, not just for basic communications but also to access a range of new applications and information services. Growth in the mobile industry is being generated through value-added services within the ecosystem and the increasingly transformative nature of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). The number of machine-to-machine (M2M) connections is forecast to reach 28 million by 2020, enabling more efficient use of resources and supporting growth throughout the whole economy.

Mobile is improving access to health, finance, education and public services. In many areas the new mobile infrastructure has enabled solutions that are improving access to reliable energy and clean water. Newly connected populations have gained access to the internet and a growing range of financial services for the first time.

The IoT is a significant source of innovation across SSA, especially in the six major markets of Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo, where enterprise networking is enabling businesses to reach new customers and monetise new products and services. For distributed enterprises and emerging industries, 3G/4G LTE network technologies are being used to meet the need for constant, flexible connectivity and failover backup solutions for business continuity. Practical applications of LTE network architectures are overcoming the challenges of fixed-line communications, reducing the barriers of speed-to-deployment, agility, cost and performance.

At the Enterprise Mobility Forum 2015, which is happening in Western Cape, South Africa this week, analysts, vendors and end-users are coming together to evaluate the impact of mobile technology, discuss key trends, and explore opportunities for innovation. My team from Cradlepoint, along with VOD Communications, are attending the conference. VOD Communications are our regional Value Added Distributor, bringing Cradlepoint solutions to the SSA market. They are BEE Level 4 certified and are a leading distributor of telecommunications technology and purpose-built networking solutions in the region.

What we are doing in SSA is not just about business opportunity, but about supporting innovative new M2M services in many diverse areas. These include mission-critical healthcare applications such as dialysis and cardiac monitoring, blue light applications, smart metering, security surveillance and banking with placement ATM machines. Our products offer data-reach in areas that were previously unreachable and present cost-effective solutions that can be deployed in hours, not the weeks or even months it would take to install fibre. With routers like our AER 2100 we can bring connectivity to new locations that are almost anywhere. We can also enable pop up networking for industries like retail to extend their reach to all parts of the continent.

Distributed enterprises and emerging industries require mobility, security and strong interoperability with existing systems. A growing number are deploying 3G/4G LTE networks for permanent primary connectivity, finding that they can optimize and pool data among multiple distributed locations because the architecture is more agile.

In workplaces, retail settings and event venues like EMF where users demand high-speed network access for an increasing number of mobile devices, managing the wired and wireless networks separately has become an impractical undertaking. Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Manager and all-in-one routers enable dynamic bandwidth management during peak usage, or constant, seamless load balancing between multiple WAN sources, significantly improving end-user experience.

Products such as the new Cradlepoint CBA 850 Cellular Broadband Adapter are ideal for failover and drop-in connectivity, and when combined with the Out-of-Band Management features become a powerful management tool for other devices on the network. Our solutions deliver enterprise-class business continuity though the use of multi-WAN 3G/4G/LTE redundancy, ensuring primary and parallel networks with ‘four-nines’ reliability (99.99% uptime).

Working with VOD Communications, Cradlepoint are poised for growth to the tune of $1b in South Africa and the SSA region with a CAGR of 3.7% over the next 4 years. It’s a hugely exciting time to be a part of Cradlepoint, as I lead the EMEA team to meet and exceed these goals.