SAN JOSE, Calif. — A startup based near Toulouse, France, hopes to raise more than $70 million to build a national network in the US for the Internet of Things. Sigfox hopes to close funding early next year in what it sees as a race to be the first with a broadly deployed wide-area IoT network.
The company says it has a lead with national IoT nets using ISM-band transceivers that have already been deployed in France and Spain and are in the works in the UK. It also has an unnamed partner with whom it hopes to put base stations on satellites for a future IoT network with global coverage.
The ambitious effort is part of the latest race to create low-power, wide-area networks. At least half a dozen companies (including Huawei, China's top communications company) are engaged in separate efforts taking different approaches, many at an early stage.
The efforts face competition from entrenched cellular operators, whose prices they hope to undercut with offerings that have longer battery life and range but much lower data rates. An emerging standard for WiFi on the ISM band is likely to spawn other competitors among the big WiFi vendors, including Qualcomm.
“We think the potential is substantial,” said Andy Castonguay, a principal analyst with the UK market watcher Machina Research, who tracks the area. “If properly implemented, it can be very applicable for industrial, agricultural, transport, and other sectors for a number of use cases, but the challenge is coverage.” Who will get there first “is still up in the air.”