Now that their 2016 buildout targets are met, Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) rivals Sigfox and Ingenu plan to continue their momentum with aggressive 2017 buildout targets.
Sigfox, the firm that established itself in France before setting out to conquer the world, covered 20% of the U.S. population and deployed its network in more than 100 U.S. cities by the end of 2016. It kicked off the new year with plans to continue expansion into major U.S. metro areas including Seattle, Philadelphia and the Baltimore-Washington beltway and aims to cover 40% of the U.S. population by the end of 2017.
San Diego, California-based Ingenu, which uses its own Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) technology, launched in more than 30 metro areas in 2016 and its goal is to cover 100 in 2017, a spokeswoman told FierceWirelessTech. Ingenu provided a list of its 30 markets to FierceWirelessTech; markets already covered include Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Diego.
A Sigfox spokeswoman declined to provide a list of Sigfox’s U.S. markets, citing customer confidentiality. It has acknowledged that it is deployed in Atlanta, New York City, Miami, San Francisco and the Bay area, Houston, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
While the president of Sigfox North America, Allen Proithis, has questioned Ingenu’s ability to stay in the game, Ingenu CEO John Horn has said Ingenu’s main competition will be the cellular industry’s Narrowband IoT. As for Ingenu’s RPMA technology, he’s happy to compare it head-to-head with Sigfox any day, including on coverage, data rate and security.
RPMA uses the globally available 2.4 GHz ISM band, while Sigfox uses 902 MHz to provide low-cost, slow-speed wireless services.
Last year, Sigfox announced it had raised about $159 million in Series E funding to accelerate expansion of its global network and reach worldwide coverage. Although the company has its share of critics and rivals, that funding round was indicative of the company’s ability to gain traction as it uses unlicensed spectrum to compete with other LPWA technologies like LoRa. LoRa got its start in California chipmaker Semtech.
All of them face competition in one form or another from cellular operators that are rolling out their own Internet of Things (IoT) technologies on top of LTE.
While the startups are deploying their infrastructure, the cellular operators can do a relatively simple and straight-forward software change to their base stations to get them up to snuff on the newer standards-based, licensed IoT technologies.
Verizon confirmed last month that, as promised, it did make LTE Cat M1 commercially available by the end of the year, with nationwide expansion to occur in 2017. Both Verizon and rival AT&T describe Cat M as a game changer for the industry, enabling sensors and devices requiring lower throughput, longer battery life and better power efficiency than current IoT solutions. Use cases include vehicle telematics, asset tracking and wearables.
Fierce Editor in Chief Mike Dano contributed to this story.