Low-Power Wide Area Networks are Top of Mind

By Joyce Deuley

The French IoT scene has seen a bit of action this past week as the IoT startup Actility just secured $25 million in its current round of funding not long after SIGFOX closed on its latest round, which included investment from Samsung. The tech giant adds SIGFOX as a partner and will equip its ARTIK developer kit with SIGFOX enabled hardware chips, which will be compatible with the SIGFOX low power wide area network from the get go.

Actility was founded in 2010, and its main platform is Thingpark, and it operates on a LoRa network meant to provide low-cost connectivity to low-power devices. The Thingpark platform can be used in smart energy management, smart agriculture, smart city, manufacturing, remote home monitoring and control, as well as smart building projects. It utilizes a long-range bi-directional low power network that provides optimized radio coverage, connects to apps or to the Thingpark Cloud, and can customize SLAs for specified vertical applications.

Actility’s round closed out Tuesday with help from some large players, such as Orange, Foxconn and Swisscom. This is especially interesting for Foxconn and Orange, as both companies are pushing to enter the IoT space pretty heavily. This announcement follows Foxconn’s other investment into Alibaba (for $500 million) as an effort to work with India’s Snapdeal; the Actility deal will help Foxconn expand further into Asia and “will leverage [Foxconn’s] strong network to accelerate the development of the IoT ecosystem, as well as integrate Actilitiy’s IoT Solutions for Smart Cities implementation in APAC” said Fang Ming Lu, EVP of Foxconn (TechCrunch).

For Orange, as well as other carriers, it’s looking forward to finding a foothold within the growing IoT marketplace and hopes to get more in the development of IoT services, moving beyond just as providers but are dabbling with systems integration as well. In a statement from Orange’s Deputy CEO, Pierre Louette, Actility’s approach to IoT and its network, “clearly corresponds to the ambition of Orange Digital Ventures to invest in actors that are developing innovative digital services that…answer the changing desires and needs of our customers” (TechCrunch).  

Innovative network options like those of Actility and SIGFOX are generating a lot of buzz within the IoT markets because of their ability interoperate with others and optimize roll-outs. By utilizing these low power wide area networks, companies can deploy connected devices without the hassle of complicated installations and quickly, cutting down the time for set up and speeds up deployments for a bevy of IoT applications. All of this will become even more important as more cities become “smart” and need to establish connected infrastructure quickly and efficiently.