French Internet of Things (IoT) company Sigfox has began its expansion down under, employing Australian IoT startup Thinxtra to roll out its low-powered, wide area network (LPWAN) technology in Australia and New Zealand.
According to Sydney-based Thinxtra, the startup is currently deploying two new nationwide wireless networks in the region which are dedicated to the IoT, with trials of the network already underway in Sydney and Melbourne.
By end of 2017, Thinxtra is planning to have coverage of the technology -- which it said provides an energy-saving alternative to existing cellular networks -- for 85 percent of the population in ANZ.
"Thinxtra wants to become the low power wide area network of choice in Australasia for Internet of Things, aiming for 60 percent market share with 17 million objects connected by end of 2022," the company says on its website. "Thinxtra wants to make it simple and economical for objects to connect, thanks to the Sigfox network technology."
Announcement of the technology rollout comes in the wake of the Sydney startup receiving a AU$4.1 million injection from New Zealand-listed technology firm Rakon.
To date, the Kiwi tech component manufacturer has invested AU$5.8 million into Thinxtra, taking a 63.8 percent stake in the IoT company.
"If the Thinxtra team hadn't existed, we would have had to invent them," Rakon managing director Brent Robinson said. "Their knowledge of the IoT, and the strong relationship they have with Sigfox, who are the world leaders in this field, is a great fit with Rakon's commitment to innovation in communications and our knowledge of the local market."
Thinxtra plans to raise a further AU$20 million through a capital raising later this year and Rakon has an option to invest a further AU$3 million, if certain objectives are achieved.
By the end of 2016 some 6.4 billion "things" -- devices from toasters and kettles to cars and hospital equipment -- will be connected to the internet, according to analyst Gartner.
That figure represents a 30 percent rise from 2015 and Gartner expects this figure will grow further to reach 20.8 billion by 2020. By 2016, as many as 5.5 million new things will become connected every day and as a result, the growing IoT will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22 percent from 2015, the analyst predicts.
With this exponential growth, Sigfox claims its network has the lowest deployment and maintenance costs of any system proposed, allowing lower-cost subscription plans.
The Australasian move is part of the French startup's plans to expand its network around the world, with rollouts in each country undertaken with a network partner.
Established in 2009, Sigfox was an early leader in the area of LPWAN for IoT deployments. The company now builds its wireless networks to connect all manner of objects such as electricity metres, smartwatches, and washing machines, providing the infrastructure that underpins the IoT.
Sigfox said its network complements existing high-bandwidth systems by providing simple two-way transmission of small quantities of data over long distances, which it says lowers the barriers to wide implementation of IoT solutions.
Sigfox raised $115 million in February last year, with backing from the likes of Telefonica, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, France's Air Liquide and GDF Suez, Eutelsat, and US hedge fund Elliott Management. Existing investors Elaia Partners, iXO PE, Partech Ventures, and Idinvest also participated in the round.
At the time, the company said the funding was expected to finance network rollouts in the US, Latin America, Japan, and South Korea, following the signing of local commercial agreements.
Since then, it has been reported that the company is seeking further funding of at least $200 million and is exploring a possible Nasdaq listing in 2017.
"There is a real opportunity today to be a leader in the Internet of Things space because there is nobody with a network to cover the whole world," Sigfox CEO Ludovic Le Moan told Bloomberg in August. "The plan for Sigfox is to have global coverage."