France-based Sigfox has raised $115 million (€102 million) from investors including Telefónica, as the "Internet of Things" specialist ramps up its global rollout plans.
The deal was announced on Wednesday and also includes NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom of South Korea, France's Air Liquide and GDF Suez, Eutelsat, and U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management. Existing investors Elaia Partners, iXO PE, Partech Ventures and Idinvest also participated in this latest funding round.
Sigfox specialises in building low-energy, low-cost wireless networks to connect all manner of objects such as electricity meters, smart watches and washing machines, providing the infrastructure that underpins the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).
The company says on its web site that this low-throughput only network is being rolled out in 60 countries within five years. Reuters noted that the network now covers France, Spain, the Netherlands and 10 of the UK's larger cities.
The €100 million in extra funding is expected to finance network rollouts in the U.S., Latin America, Japan and South Korea following the signing of commercial agreements in these markets.
Sigfox has certainly tapped into the zeitgeist, with IoT now one of the hottest topics in the field of wireless connectivity.
"They're like the Vodafone of the Internet of Things. They're not running the applications themselves, they're providing the network," William Webb, CEO of non-profit firm The Weightless SIG, told Reuters. "They're the furthest along at the moment," he said.
Europe's telecoms operators are all investing in IoT or machine-to-machine (M2M) to a greater or lesser degree, with connected cars and the connected home regarded as two major areas of growth initially.
Efforts are also now being made to develop regulations and standards for the sector: UK regulator Ofcom, for example, recently released details of plans designed to ensure the UK takes a leading role in developing the IoT.
The oft-cited estimate is that up to 50 billion connected devices could be in use by 2020, including cars, parking meters and smart utility meters.
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