South Asia’s first Massive IoT network launches in Sri Lanka by Dialog & Ericsson


Dialog Axiata alongside Ericsson has begun the rollout of the first commercial Massive IoT network. Its goal is to accelerate the adoption of IoT devices and provide a platform for an IoT ecosystem in Sri Lanka. And this is the first such network to be launched in South Asia. So what exactly does this mean for us? To find the answer to that question, we need to break down the buzzwords.

What exactly is IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items that have electronics embedded into them and are connected to the Internet. With this connectivity, they are able to connect and exchange data.

An example of this in action is the Philips Hue lighting system. This is a set of LED light bulbs that you can control via your smartphone. This means not only can you turn your lights on and off while you’re at work. But they’ll also turn on automatically the moment you enter your house after a day at work. But that’s merely scratching the surface.

Of course, Sri Lanka is no stranger to the concept of IoT. Both established tech companies and startups are specialists in IoT. One local example we can take is of SenzMate, which is a startup that specializes in building IoT solutions. In fact, one of their first products is a network of sensors that help farmers grow more crops.

So what is Massive IoT then?

Massive IoT takes the concept one step further. This is where on a single network, you’ll find hundreds if not thousands of IoT devices. These devices are defined as cheap, communicate in small volumes, and consume very little electricity. Examples of Massive IoT include smart buildings, smart cities, fleets of automated vehicles, etc.

While applications speak of their advantages for themselves, Massive IoT is not without its challenges. One of the primary challenges is ensuring that devices are cheap. Another is ensuring that these cheap devices will have a long battery life. Furthermore, the telecommunications networks will have to change as well.

Characteristics of a Massive IoT network (Image credits: Ericsson)
Characteristics of a Massive IoT network (Image credits: Ericsson)

This is because Massive IoT requires network coverage across a wide area to be viable. This means not only across a city but also across an entire country. Furthermore, the networks must be able to scale and accommodate a growing number of devices in the future. Finally, the network must able be able to support a diverse range of applications.

South Asia’s first Massive IoT network

With the partnership between Dialog and Ericsson, we in Sri Lanka now have the first Massive IoT network in South Asia. While we’re still a few years away from actual applications of Massive IoT, the infrastructure is now in place for such applications to be built.

Commenting on the launch of this network, Pradeep De Almeida – Group CTO of Dialog said, “We are seeking to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies by enterprises and help them create exciting new products and services for consumers. The network will amplify opportunity for solutions such as smart metering for utilities, smart environmental sensors for smart cities, as well as other applications in agriculture.”

Ericsson and Dialog Axiata representatives at Mobile World Congress 2018 (Image credits: Ericsson)
Ericsson and Dialog Axiata representatives at Mobile World Congress 2018 (Image credits: Ericsson)

Adding to this, Vinod Samarawickrama – Country Manager of Ericsson for Sri Lanka & Maldives said, “A well-developed IoT ecosystem is fast becoming key for operators to enable new services and revenue streams. Our partnership with Dialog Axiata to roll out the first Massive IoT network for in the country, and notably South Asia, contributes towards this fast-developing IoT ecosystem.”

At the end of the day, the success of this network will be judged by its usage. Experts estimate that there will be over $30bn IoT devices and the market for them will be worth over $7.1 trillion by 2020. But how many of those will we see in Sri Lanka? Only time will tell. But for now, we’ve successfully passed another milestone on the road to 5G.


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