Senet was an early proponent of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The company was founded five years ago to use IoT to notify heating fuel delivery companies when their customers’ tanks were running low. According to CEO Bruce Chatterley, the company ended up building a significant nationwide LoRa network footprint. “Over time as we evolved, we began building a network business,” Chatterley said during an interview with SDxCentral.
Chatterley said the company also had to build back office capabilities to run the network and manage the devices. That back office layer is now valuable to other companies. “We have a variety of network management tools that are focused on high reliability. … Our back office has been built by a network operator for network operators,” he said.
SenRa Tech, a LoRa provider in India, is using Senet’s IoT managed services and back office bundle to help manage its connectivity and network. SenRa provides IoT solutions for industries such as water metering and management, and agriculture.
But Senet isn’t the only firm focusing on this area. Actility provides a similar service with its ThingPark IoT platform, which manages the communications between sensors, base stations, and applications. Actility also supports the LoRa market and is working with some big players, including Comcast’s MachineQ IoT business venture.
Cisco Jasper has long been a provider of device management for IoT. However, that company has always supported devices on 2G, 3G, and 4G cellular networks. Cisco Jasper late last month added support for low power WAN IoT connectivity standards such as narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M.
Largest Nationwide LoRa Network
Chatterley said Senet believes it has one of the largest public LoRa network footprints in the U.S. “We feel like we are the only public LoRa network with a nationwide footprint,” Chatterley said.
The key to that claim is LoRa, which Chatterley said means the company’s network has an open architecture and an ecosystem that includes device makers. LoRa uses unlicensed spectrum to support data rates in the range of 0.3 kb/s to 50 kb/s. Key companies involved in the LoRa Alliance include Cisco, Actility, Comcast’s MachineQ, IBM and several operators such as SK Telecom, Orange, and KPN.
Senet doesn’t consider Ingenu a public network because Ingenu is built on a proprietary technology called random phase multiple access (RPMA). At the end of 2016, Ingenu said it had coverage in about 32 markets mostly in Texas, California, and Florida. But Ingenu has experienced some turmoil lately, losing its CEO John Horn and several board members. A company spokesman told FierceWireless it is looking for a new CEO and is embarking on a new strategic direction that includes building the RMPA brand and the IoT ecosystem.
Likewise, Senet doesn’t consider Sigfox a competitor on the network front as Sigfox uses a narrowband technology coupled with a standard radio transmission method called binary phase-shift keying (BPSK). Sigfox is currently in about 100 U.S. markets, including Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Atlanta. The company has raised $159 million in funding.
Comcast’s MachineQ business unit could be a competitor to Senet’s LoRa network, but Comcast has so far only announced trials in three cities — Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago.