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Vodafone UK builds up IoT offering with SA's IoT.nxt

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Vodafone UK flagged plans to expand its Internet of Things (IoT) offering for enterprise customers, building on the expertise of South Africa-based IoT.nxt.

Vodafone-owned Vodacom Group acquired a 51% stake in the IoT solutions provider in 2019 as a way to accelerate its IoT strategy.

At the time, Vodacom said the deal would allow it to take advantage of what IoT.nxt has already been doing in the IoT market and combine this with the IoT activities of Vodacom Business.

According to Scott Petty, chief technology officer at Vodafone UK, the group is now realizing its intention of bringing IoT.nxt to the global stage.

"We really hope to accelerate its growth in the UK and across Europe in the coming months," he said.

IoT.nxt provides hardware – in the form of smart sensors and IoT gateways – and software that is used to provide IoT solutions through an end-to-end platform.

The combination of its protocol-agnostic information layer and flexible architecture allows for rapid solution development, it claims.

Money where your mouth is

Vodafone plans to work with IoT.nxt to develop IoT offerings that are tailored to particular applications and business needs, with the aim of creating additional revenue streams in different parts of the IoT value chain.

Through IoT.nxt, it plans to offer customers "every part of an IoT solution," with a single data management platform, and the capability to integrate old and new devices in one system. Vodafone will provide IoT sensors and devices, create a data management platform, and offer ongoing professional services.

Petty said an IoT solution has five main components: sensors and devices, edge gateways, connectivity, platform orchestration, and professional services.

He indicated that Vodafone UK is particularly focused on the development of commercial opportunities around IoT.nxt's Raptor-branded smart edge gateway, which he said helps enterprises manage the integration of legacy equipment along with newer devices.

Vodafone UK has itself deployed IoT.nxt's Raptor basestation-monitoring technology in its basestations. The technology enables an operator to monitor environmental factors such as humidity and heat, in order to control energy consumption and reduce harmful emissions.

Petty noted that enterprises would have a choice of a range of connectivity options including narrowband IoT (NB-IoT). He added that Vodafone UK is generally pleased with the uptake of NB-IoT to date, despite recent adverse reports about the technology's progress.

From startup to Vodafone IoT engine

IoT.nxt had already hinted that more projects were afoot following the acquisition.

Speaking during a podcast with TechCentral earlier this year, CEO Nico Steyn said there are "some really exciting developments that are very close to being announced" in relation to IoT.nxt and Vodafone.

In November, the IoT specialist beefed up its management team to handle its global growth.

Shane Cooper, previously chief of operations, was appointed IoT.nxt managing director for Africa.

Brett Grobbelaar, previously vertical lead for industrials, is now managing director for IoT.nxt UK, and Mark Beets, previously general manager, is now the business development director of MPN (Mobile Private Networks) and Vodafone Global Partner Markets.

Founded in 2015, IoT.nxt now employs more than 300 people and generates annual revenue of around $US35 million.

*This article was originally published by Light Reading on 11/24/2020.

*Top image source: Vodafone UK

— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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