SAN JOSE, Calif.—Ingenu, the LoRa Alliance and Sigfox announced expanded partnerships for their competing low-power wide area networks at the Mobile World Congress. The LPWA nets are in a race to connect the Internet of Things at a time when cellular backers are accelerating their efforts to finish competing IoT standards.
Ingenu said it has licensed companies in 25 countries to deploy networks based on its 2.4 GHz technology. The LoRA Alliance snagged separate partnerships with ARM and a service provider in Germany for its 900 MHz network. For its part, Sigfox announced two deals to deploy a total of more than 1.2 million devices certified to run on its 900 MHz net.
As many as a dozen LPWA competitors are racing to fill a gap in unlicensed bands that cellular providers aim to plug in licensed bands with emerging standards expected to be finished this year. It’s still early days for LPWA networks that have provided few details on their performance or early users. Connections to LPWA nets more than tripled in 2015 to a still modest 23.2 million connections, to Machina Research.
Ingenu got its start in September when new chief executive John Horn changed its name from On Ramp Networks and shifted its strategy from building private networks to creating public IoT nets. The company currently manages 38 private networks around the world using its proprietary Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) technology based on its own ASICs and developed by founders including former Qualcomm engineers.
In the last few weeks, Ingenu signed exclusive deals to set up national networks in Australia, China, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and United Arab Emirates and 18 other countries. The unnamed licensees agreed to cover at least a quarter of the country’s population within a year.
“A lot of [the partners] are not carriers, but people serving carriers such as backhaul providers, tower providers, tech integrators and investment groups,” said Landon Garner, chief marketing officer of Ingenu.
Garner did not disclose the value of the deals but said they were enough to replace earlier plans to raise a C round of venture funding to fuel the roll out of its own PRMA network in the U.S.
“The revenue being generated is enough to sustain us,” said Garner, adding the licenses generated millions of dollars. The company hopes to sign another 12-15 licenses in areas such as Latin America, however it is not pursuing partners in Europe which “is heavily saturated and regulated,” he said.
“Ingenu’s announcement is big news for this space, confirming its position as a global alternative,” said Aapo Markkanen, principal analyst at Machina. “With everything else that’s going on by other players, they really needed to nail down those licensees, in order to make RPMA a credible option for developers,” he said.
Ingenu hopes to finish building public IoT networks in Phoenix and Dallas “in next couple weeks” before moving on to other U.S. cities. Ultimately, Ingenu aims to deploy about 600 towers to cover 70% of the U.S. with 30 U.S. cities served by the end of 2016.
The company also plans to forge partnerships with more chip, module and systems partners in the next month or two to make the hardware based on its ASICs. “We don’t want to be in hardware business long term,” Garner said.
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