A group of tech companies including operators Orange, KPN and Swisscom and manufacturing giant Foxconn have put $25 million into Actility, an IoT startup focused on the LoRaWAN standard, reports Telecoms.com.
With the IoT land grab fully underway there are already calls for standardisation and collaboration as everyone looks to get an early piece of the action. The LoRa Alliance was unveiled at CES at the start of this year to support LoRaWAN low-power WAN technology. Minimising the amount of power required by IoT modules is considered critical if they’re to have the multi-year battery life required for embedded applications.
This $25 million round of funding was led by Ginko Ventures, which is a consortium consisting of the above tech companies and some VC players. The stated aim of the investment is to accelerate the go-to-market strategy for Actility’s ThingPark open standard IoT network solution.
“I decided to create Actility in 2010 based on the intuition that M2M would become much bigger and the need for carrier grade M2M infrastructure,” Actility founder and chief exec Olivier Hersent told Telecoms.com. “In terms of technology we have worked a lot with a technology call LoRa, which is one of the fastest growing alliances, on the LoRaWAN standard.
“ThingPark provides the technology to connect both long range and low power sensors over unlicensed ISM band spectrum, allowing low cost and fast roll-out of IoT networks for a wide range of IoT applications. We are delighted to have secured the backing of such prominent communications industry leaders.”
“Foxconn Group is transforming to be a high technology solution provider, including hardware and software value creation. Through this strategic investment, we will expand our current collaboration with Actility to bring its LoRaWAN technology and IoT Platform and Solutions to Taiwan, China, and the rest of Asia,” said Fang Ming Lu, executive vice president of Foxconn.
“This is a technology that comes at the right time for operators to accelerate the connection of objects,” Jean-Paul de Weck, CEO Swisscom Broadcast. “There is set to be a huge increase in the demand for IoT and we see Actility as a key partner as we expand our activities in this market.”
The feeling among Actility and its investors is that LoRa could well become the default IoT technology worldwide, and that it will only become so if it is open to all players. The commercial applications of IoT at this early stage tend to be more industrial, such as smart metering, remote monitoring and logistics applications. By seeding the market the aim is to prove the commercial viability of such IoT implementations and build momentum.
The announcement coincides with a flood of other IoT collaborations. Vodafone is partnering with EMC to develop an IoT testing platform, while Samsung yesterday announced a partnership and investment in Sigfox, which seems to be competitive with LoRa and already has some commercial networks, with a new one being rolled out by Engie in Belgium. Finally the Weightless SIG, yet another prospective IoT wireless standard, also picked this week to announce the deployment of a Weightless-N Smart City network in London. It seems unlikely that all these announcements are a coincidence and the IoT land grab is definitely gathering intensity.