Sigfox on track to cover 10 biggest U.S. cities with 902 MHz IoT network by end of Q1

BARCELONA, Spain -- IoT network supplier Sigfox said it remains on track to cover the nation's top 10 biggest cities with its Internet of Things-focused wireless network by the end of the first quarter of this year. The company said it is currently building out its network in locations such as New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Denver, Dallas following the launch of its network in San Francisco in October. The company expects to begin signing customers up to its service in the coming months.

"We have a number of [customer] trials about to kick off in the next 60 days," said Allen Proithis, president of Sigfox's North American business. He noted the company is in the midst of opening offices in cities across the United States, and that he has grown the company's U.S. team from just a handful of people to around a dozen employees. He said he will continue to grow the company's U.S. staff as it begins to sign customers.

Proithis explained that Sigfox expects to initially target industrial companies with its low-cost, slow-speed wireless service in the United States, and that next year the company will start to target consumer markets as its coverage across the United States grows.

Demand from customers in the United States is "overwhelming," Proithis said.

A French startup, Sigfox has already built out its inexpensive IoT network across a number of countries in Europe, and currently counts roughly 7 million devices connected to its network there. The company broadcasts its signal through briefcase-sized base stations covering 20-30 kilometers working in unlicensed spectrum (backhauled with DSL, satellite or 3G networks) to receivers that cost just a few dollars today. The company predicted the cost of those receivers would fall to just $0.50 by the end of this year.

The amount of data the company's network transmits can be counted in individual bits and bytes, but as Proithis pointed out, that's just enough for its customers to check on applications like water monitoring, home security and other such services. For example, smoke alarm company Otio said it will connect 1 million Otio Alert devices to Sigfox's network in France, Spain and Germany. The gadgets that can detect "domestic incidents" such as smoke or carbon monoxide emissions, dramatic temperature changes, power failure and intrusion into the house, and immediately inform users by text messaging.

Proithis said that Sigfox separates itself from cellular-based IoT services and technologies like LTE Cat 0 and LTE M because Sigfox's services are so much cheaper -- some customers pay just a few dollars a year for Sigfox connections. And the company doesn't intend to control its device ecosystem -- already more than a dozen companies build Sigfox receivers based on the company's free-to-use development kit. But Sigfox faces competition from a range of other dedicated IoT network technologies like Ingenu's RPMA network and the network technology from the LoRa Alliance. But Proithis contended that neither cellular-inspired IoT network nor those from dedicated suppliers would directly compete with the broad coverage and inexpensive solutions from Sigfox.

"We're perfect for a certain set of use cases," Proithis said.

Proithis declined to provide any insight into privately held Sigfox's financials, only to say that "revenue growth is healthy."

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