A partnership between CommsCloud, an Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provider and floLIVE, creator of a hyperlocal global cellular network, is set to accelerate the rollout of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in Africa.

Rony Cohen, head of strategy and business development at floLIVE, says one of the underlying causes behind the connectivity struggles faced by IoT rollouts on the continent to date is the legacy mobile network operator (MNO) infrastructure it has traditionally relied on.

“MNO infrastructure has primarily been built for voice and data, and not optimised for IoT,” he says. “With this in mind, it was essential to find a solution that would sidestep MNO legacy infrastructure and find a multi-operator SIM solution that was truly modern.”

CommsCloud and floLIVE have developed a solution to this problem, which also has significant potential for these self-same MNOs, which have historically relied on legacy, consumer-oriented platforms. According to Cohen, MNOs are now seeking advanced, cloud-based solutions that will not only meet enterprise requirements but make their IoT divisions profitable.

“MNOs are looking for ways to move away from an over-reliance on roaming agreements, which do not suit all IoT use cases and may be challenged by the wide eSIM adoption,” he says.

As more and more devices are launched with eSIM capability, it will only become more important to provide cross-border functionality without having to rely on roaming, which is untenable across much of the continent.

“In Africa, IoT customers have been searching for solutions to support cross-border business intelligence, looking to achieve the same visibility when roaming outside of South Africa for example, or keeping costs low as they expand across Africa,” says Peter Walsh, MD of CommsCloud. “With the rise in IoT, including logistics, assets and livestock tracking, access control and anti-theft use cases, the need for coverage and visibility cross-border is even more essential.”

The companies’ solution uses floLIVE’s multi-international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) SIM cards, which allow customers to obtain local coverage for their devices anywhere in the world, via its global alliance that comprises more than 15 local MNOs, including tier-1s (such as Telefonica, China Telecom).

Through a single SIM card and one SKU, all devices connect locally, ensuring high performance with no coverage gaps when crossing borders. This is augmented by satellite connectivity when cellular coverage is not available.

Behind the scenes, customers have one connectivity management platform for seamless SIM card management. The platform provides access to the world’s largest cloud-based IoT infrastructure, with a presence on five continents, and around-the-clock technical support.

Clients also have access to advanced business intelligence tools to ensure that each role and player in the business gets data-driven insights to enhance their ability to monitor and manage the complete IoT ecosystem. These include trends, hardware details, APN traffic, device uptime, cost containment, optimisation opportunities and client-specific metadata, rules, thresholds and alerts.

“With floLIVE we’ve been able to launch a low-cost connectivity solution across the whole of Africa,” says Walsh. “We can offer Remote SIM Provisioning to our customers so they can switch out operators where necessary to keep costs low, and allow them to scale their IoT businesses, with all the right billing tools to ensure visibility and control. We check all the boxes that our competitors don’t.”