On-Ramp Wireless becomes Ingenu, touts purpose-built network for Internet of Things

LAS VEGAS -- Machine-to-machine wireless firm On-Ramp Wireless will use its Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) technology to build a nationwide network dedicated exclusively to M2M and Internet of Things connectivity. In addition, On-Ramp is rebranding itself "Ingenu" and calling its soon-to-be-built network, "the Machine Network."

Ingenu is banking on On-Ramp's well-known board members as well as its RPMA technology to set it apart. CEO John Horn was previously the president of M2M firm Raco Wireless, which was acquired by Core Telematics.  In addition, Ingenu's board of directors  include Dick Lynch, former CTO of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), former Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg and Andrew Viterbi, former CTO of Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM).

The company is also highlighting the fact that its technology is already being deployed in 38 private networks across five continents -- and that the Machine Network will make RPMA capabilities available to the public.

Ingenu's RPMA technology "takes the shortcomings of cellular and replaces them," Horn said in an interview with FierceWireless. The RPMA technology uses unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum but the technology is designed to avoid interference by being able to self-modulate within the band to find a clear signal at both the network and device level, according to Ingenu CMO Landon Garner.  

Horn said the company's Machine Network is currently being built and already covers more than 50,000 square miles in the United States. In January 2016, the company said metropolitan areas such a Dallas and Phoenix will be among the first cities connected via the Machine Network. The network buildout will continue across the country through the end of 2017.

Ingenu has raised more than $100 million to date and is in the final stages of closing a Series D funding round. The Machine Network will primarily be funded by that round, according to a company spokeswoman. 

According to Horn, RPMA can provide 200 square miles of coverage per tower, significantly decreasing deployment costs because it needs fewer towers. The technology is not designed for voice or high-speed data, and is aimed at providing low throughput speeds but with maximum coverage and battery efficiency for devices. "Where cellular is all about, bigger, better, faster, more, this is about bigger, better coverage but not about faster data speeds," Horn said.

With traditional cellular networks, users need to worry device batteries draining because of gadgets communicating constantly to nearby cell sites. RPMA establishes a connection, pings the network, checks the status of the device or communicates data and then turns the connection off.  Horn said a company engaged in fleet management could, for example, put a device on a container, ping it a couple of times a week and run it for 10 years before the battery dies.

That long-lasting battery and the unlicensed spectrum are a few of Ingenu's selling points. Horn said that traditional cellular carriers cannot provide their M2M customers with a 10-year to 20-year guarantee that the modules they are putting into their devices will continue to serve their needs, but Ingenu can. He said carriers are pushing LTE for M2M connections because they have to as they refarm their 2G spectrum for LTE.

Horn said Ingenu's modules will cost around $10 each. Customers will primarily be M2M solutions providers and will pay a monthly recurring charge for data access. Yet Horn said Ingenu's business model is flexible enough so that the charge could be based on how many devices are connected to the network or how much data they are sending per month. 

There are competing M2M solutions in the market. AT&T (NYSE: T) is among the backers of a GSMA initiative to accelerate the rollout of cellular networks customized for M2M. Dubbed the "Mobile IoT Initiative," the project is designed to address the use of Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) solutions in licensed spectrum. 

Meanwhile, the LoRa Alliance also counts mobile operators among its members and it released the LoRaWAN R1.0 specification in June. The alliance wants to drive the growth of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) globally and guarantee interoperability in an open carrier-grade network.  In addition,  France-based Sigfox aims to get its low-throughput network rolled out in 60 countries within five years. Its network technology runs in the unlicensed 902 MHz band in the United States and the 868 MHz band in Europe.  

Ingenu also has competition from startup M2M Spectrum Networks, which has launched a similar venture.

For more:
- see these two separate releases 

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