JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Chinese telecommunications company Huawei is making the leap into the water technology market by partnering with South African mobile network, MTN.
The two companies are launching a ‘Smart Water Metering solution’ – what is being called the first “Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) solution in Africa”.
While the ‘Internet of Things’ phrase is commonly being used by manufacturers, referring to technology that is connected to the internet, NB-IoT refers to connecting out of reach objects to the internet by mobile phone connectivity.
As part of the project, Huawei will be supplying the NB-IoT technology to transmit data and automatically collect utility meter data, which it said will reduce “high labor costs and missing or inaccurate data”.
In a statement, Huawei said: “Through sensors installed in water meters, customers can identify water pipeline leakage earlier. Household water meters will automatically report data on a regular basis, reducing fault probabilities and the operating expense.”
As utilities evolve to gather more data on water consumption habits, the smart technology space is growing with companies looking to find a way in.
Across Europe alone, smart water meter deployments are expected to increase by 27% over the next ten years.
In August water technology company Xylem acquired US company Sensus for US$1.7bn, marking a company move into the data and analytical space (read story).
The Smart Water Metering service from MTN/Huawei will be commercially deployed in 2017.
Following the commercial trial of the smart water metering technology, MTN said it will be looking to adapt the NB-IoT solution to other areas, such as parking, agriculture and wildlife tracking.
Babak Fouladi, group chief technology and information officer at Huawei, said: "NB-IoT is viewed by the industry as the answer for enterprise applications in a range of different areas, from utility meters to sensor monitoring to asset-tracking.”
Jacky Chen, managing director of Huawei MTN Key Account Group, said: "The number of cellular IoT connections in Africa will grow seven-fold over the next three to four years, and NB-IoT will be a key driver for this trend.”