Senet, the largest U.S.-based provider of LoRaWAN technology for IoT, launched the Senet Low Power Wide Area Virtual Network, or LVN for short, to offer connectivity solutions for cable, CLEC or even wireless operators if they’re so inclined.
That said, wireless operators are probably Senet’s single largest, collective competitor in IoT, but it’s also aiming to partner with cellular carriers if they need a solution like LoRa offers, according to Senet CEO Bruce Chatterley.
Senet is in 225 U.S. markets, but the Senet LVN also supports domestic and international LoRaWAN networks through roaming. The LVN connects multiple networks so a customer of any one of those networks can place a device on a network, and whoever is hosting that network gets a revenue share.
“It builds an ecosystem that creates a financial incentive to buy these gateways" and deploy them in as many places as possible, then having a ready-made asset sitting there waiting for other people’s devices to connect to and generate a revenue stream as part of the LVN, he said.
It also solves an industry problem of how to get network connectivity in far-flung places.
“The only thing that’s certain in this LPWAN market is that the network is not available where most applications need to go,” he said. “How do you cost effectively get networks into farmers’ fields,” under the manhole covers and other hard-to-reach places. “This is really what we think is the right model," with a targeted deployment and financial incentive to get a gateway deployed. Then it's about becoming part of a bigger ecosystem that’s global and no one entity bears the financial costs.
Senet has been promoting this to its customers and stumbled upon some new business models that previously had not been considered. It’s working with cell tower companies, for example, that are interested in purchasing these gateways and putting them on their towers, then sitting back and watching the revenue flow in as devices connect, according to Chatterley.
Owners of big signs and billboards in major cities also are prime candidates to do the same thing; most signs have power and connectivity of some sort nowadays so they can deploy the gateways for a quick return on investment.
Senet figures there are two major players in LPWAN: cellular carriers and LoRa network providers. “It really becomes a game of matching the technical strengths to the application requirements,” he said. “We believe that we can coexist with those guys and both have a massive market opportunity. In some cases, we’ll compete head to head,” but there are larger areas where they won’t.
Cellular's NB-IoT solutions are still being deployed and some won’t be up and running until late next year. “We’re talking to all kinds of carriers,” big and small, he said, which are realizing that it’s not one technology that’s going to solve all their problems. “They need multiple arrows in their quiver,” he said.
Wireless operators can keep their licensed cellular technology, continue building that out and keep their engineering resources pure while leveraging their operational capabilities to deploy the gateways that Senet will manage for them. That gives them a solution for a segment of the market they might not otherwise reach timing-wise or cost-wise. “Any of them can do it,” and that includes the Big 4, he said. “We’d like to work with everyone.”