Senet, which has recently deployed Internet of Things (IoT) network across 100 cities in the United States, believes that availability of applications and sensors, is the biggest bottlenecks for the growth of this technology.
“Availability of applications and sensors for devices is a key bottleneck for the growth of IoT networks. There has been a lot of improvement in the last four years. We are working to make sure that sensors for different use cases are easily available. Possibly the biggest learning for us that it is not necessarily about the deployment of the network but about how to manage and about applications and how to monetize it. We believe that strong uptake of this will start in 2017,” William Yapp, Vice President, Business Development, Senet told The Telecom Times.
The company is using Low-Power, Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) technology to deploy network using unlicensed frequency band. SigFox and Ingenu are some of the other players in this segment.
Senet’s network in the USA covers 125,000 square miles in strategically chosen areas of New England, upstate New York and some areas in Midwest. It has also deployed in the state of California and LA. It plans to double the area over the next year.
“It is fairly early days in the US right now. In a way it is the same paradigm, which is true for 3GPP standards, where it is first implemented in Europe and then in the US market,” explains Yapp.
However, the company realized that network coverage is just one part of developing IoT network. “We have around 70 to 100 applications in various verticals such as agriculture, smart building which are at various stages of commercialization,” explains Yapp. The company has pre-defined agreements with various vendors which it believes will help in the faster uptake of the services.
It will be some time before the company develops a sustainable revenue stream. “We see ourselves as Network as a Service provider. We have a recurring revenue model which is based on the amount of data consumed. The more the data is used, more we are going to earn,” says Yapp.
Senet recently launched Foundry, which offers a suite of training, development tools and technical consulting services for leveraging LoRa technology. The company claims that it enables developers to create and launch LoRa-compliant IoT products quickly and efficiently.
LPWAN is emerging as a popular technology for IoT networks because it enables connectivity over long ranges of approximately 15 miles while delivering very long battery power life (around 10 years).
Geographically, Yapp believes that Europe is leading the charge in IoT. “Besides Europe, there is a strong uptake in Asia as well. SK Telecom in Korea and Orange and KPN are supporting LoRa,” he adds.
As the deployment of LPWANs gathers pace there is a concern that it might compete with the wireless or cellular technology in the near future, especially so with the upcoming 5G technology. Yapp elaborates on the differences between the two technologies, “Cellular technology is very good in the delivery of areas where high bandwidth is available and cost of ownership is not a concern. However, LPWAN is very effective in scenarios where cost-effectiveness and cost of the devices is concerned. Some applications will obviously fall in grey areas. For instance, in 5G cellular networks might be able to offer applications in similar cost as LPWAN. However, as of now, there is a significant cost difference between LPWAN and cellular networks. Besides there is a decline of 30% to 40% in the cost of LoRA devices.”