Vodafone UK builds up IoT offering with IoT.nxt

The UK-based operator signals progress with ambition to take South African startup's IoT solutions global.

Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

November 24, 2020

3 Min Read
Vodafone UK builds up IoT offering with IoT.nxt

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.

Figure 1: Going in-house: Vodafone UK has deployed IoT.nxt's IoT platform internally. (Source: Vodafone UK) Going in-house: Vodafone UK has deployed IoT.nxt's IoT platform internally.
(Source: Vodafone UK)

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 application 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 its acquisition by Vodafone.

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.

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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.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Anne Morris

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Anne Morris is a freelance journalist, editor and translator. She has been working in the telecommunications sector since 1996, when she joined the London-based team of Communications Week International as copy editor. Over the years she held the editor position at Total Telecom Online and Total Tele-com Magazine, eventually leaving to go freelance in 2010. Now living in France, she writes for a number of titles and also provides research work for analyst companies.

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