Amber to build ‘internet of things’ data network | Business


Amber Group Chief Executive Michael McNaughton is not committing to the planned construction of Jamaica’s first 0G, or zero G, network for which the company is seeking partners.

It has already obtained a service provider and carrier license to operate a 0G Internet of Things data network in Jamaica from the Department of Energy.

Speaking from abroad as he negotiated with potential partners, McNaughton said the plan had taken two years to complete and how quickly they progressed with construction depended on the partnerships struck.

“It’s quite a process; we can’t put a definitive timeline on that. We have to sign with the partner to then come and do the paperwork,” he said. “Essentially we have the license in hand and we can go ahead with all of our plans,” McNaughton said in an interview with the financial gleaner tuesday.

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The Internet of Things, or IoT, describes devices with sensors and software that can process and exchange data with other devices. It enables the interconnection of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data, Amber said.

“Similar to technology that lets you open or close a door remotely, or even stay in the office and see how much food is in the fridge,” McNaughton added.

Amber’s plans call for the deployment of 50 to 70 transponders, enough to cover all of Jamaica, McNaughton said, but would not disclose the capital budget for the project.

The units will be wirelessly connected to each other and will download small packets of information via satellite.

“What we’re going to offer is a low-band network that offers some sort of connectivity without the need for, say, a SIM card and so on. You won’t be able to upload photos etc because that requires more capacity,” McNaughton said.

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In a statement, Amber Group said through its project, Jamaica will join 75 countries around the world that have already adapted to 0G networks to support the growing innovation and demand for IoT devices around the world. Its proposed 0G network, he added, will allow any IoT device to communicate small packets of data over long distances and at a fraction of the current cost using secure cloud infrastructure.

0G technology is already widely used in industries such as automotive manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, from warehouses to shipyards.

Amber says the technology is also used in healthcare, agriculture, retail, smart homes and cities, utilities and the energy sector.

McNaughton said that due to the nature of the technology, it avoids the need for spectrum, i.e. the regulated band of radio frequencies that allows the operation of radios, free-to-air television, cable and cell phones.

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“As this is a low band, no spectrum approval is required. The approval we got from the Department of Energy came after OUR did its own assessment and made a recommendation,” McNaughton said. OUR, Office of Utilities Regulation, is the regulator of telecommunications services and providers. Spectrum is sold by the Spectrum Management Authority.

The Jamaican telecommunications market is dominated by Digicel Jamaica and Flow Jamaica.

McNaughton, however, said Amber would not compete with telecoms, but was more cooperatively oriented, since neither Digicel nor Flow operate in the low-band space.

Amber obtained its carrier license three months after its acquisition of a South African IoT company in January.

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