Sigfox scores first MEA deployment with Omantel deal

Oman-based telecoms operator Omantel has picked Sigfox technology to underpin a new Internet of Things (IoT) network throughout the Sultanate, which is the 17th country to be signed up by the France-based low power wide area (LPWA) network provider and its first rollout in Middle East and Africa (MEA).

The two companies said they expect to offer network coverage to 85 per cent of Oman's population within 18 months, working with manufacturers of components and objects to offer a wide variety of connected solutions for smart applications, energy efficiency, agriculture, security and other uses.

The move forms part of the "Omantel 3.0 transformation strategy", which includes adopting proven new technologies and expanding services, in line with plans to enable digital services in the Sultanate.

Thierry Siminger, president of Sigfox Middle East and Africa (MEA), also noted that the agreement with Omantel is a "major milestone in Sigfox' expansion in the MEA" as it marks the company's first network rollout in the region.

In October last year, Sigfox said it was opening an office in Dubai to manage its network rollout in MEA.

The company plans to cover more than 30 countries with its network by the end of 2016. The company now covers or is deploying its network in 12 countries in Europe and is also present in the U.S. In February it announced coverage partnerships with network operators in Mauritius and the French Overseas Territories. Earlier this month it also announced the rollout of its network in New Zealand and Australia.

Sigfox specialises in building low-energy, low-cost wireless platforms to connect all manner of objects such as electricity meters, smart watches and washing machines, providing the infrastructure that underpins the IoT.

It competes with rival proprietary LPWA network providers including LoRa and U.S.-based Ingenu, which is now building public networks exclusively for machine traffic in markets across the globe based on its random phase multiple access (RPMA) technology.

They now face increasing competition from so-called cellular IoT technologies that fall under the 3GPP standardisation umbrella and will operate in licensed spectrum.

In our recent special report on LPWA technologies, David Hammarwall, Ericsson's head of 4G/5G services and infrastructure within the Swedish vendor's radio business unit, noted that EC-GSM, NB-IoT [now renamed LTE Cat-M2] and [LTE] Cat-M1 are the main [cellular IoT] LPWA contenders.

For more:
- see this Sigfox release

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