French start-up seeks funding for global Internet of Things network

French technology startup Sigfox is making the rounds in an attempt to raise funds to expand its dedicated network for the Internet of Things, according to the Financial Times.

The company has met with investors and wants to raise at least $63 million to fund the building of its cellular network globally. The company uses ultra-narrowband (UNB) technology to connect devices using unlicensed spectrum in Europe at 868 MHz and in the United States at 902 MHz.

According to Sigfox, an important advantage provided by using narrowband technology is the flexibility it offers in terms of antenna design. On the network infrastructure end, it allows the use of small and simple antennas, but more importantly, it allows devices to use inexpensive and easily customizable antennas.

Sigfox's connectivity solution is based on an antenna and base station infrastructure that is independent of existing networks. The goal is to roll out the low-throughput network in 60 countries within the next five years.

The company already covers France, Spain, the UK and the Netherlands and big cities in countries such as Germany and Italy. It raised $20.6 million in March to fund its network development, the Times noted.

Sigfox claims that it can reach half the world in the next two to three years, with much of Europe already covered by its "0G" network, and a smaller one already in place around San Francisco. The company offers its network to the makers and providers of connected devices, such as car companies, for a subscription.

The group's biggest deal has been with Spanish security group Securitas, which is using the Sigfox network to connect smart home security systems. It also has done other deals, such as providing the connectivity behind a canine smart collar company in San Francisco.

Sigfox has also spoken with satellite operators about extending its network using their global coverage, the Times article said.

Big things are expected from the Internet of Things, sometimes also called the Internet of Everything. According to IDC, which defines IoT as a network of networks where things communicate without human interaction using IP connectivity, IoT solutions will be a $7.1 trillion business in 2020. Gartner, which excludes PCs, smartphones and tablets from its IoT projections, anticipates there will be 26 billion connected units by 2020. 

For more:
- see this Financial Times article (sub. req.)
- see this Mobile World Live story

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Making sense of the IoT opportunity
AT&T exec: IoT standards groups need to work together

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