WND-UK, the UK’s primary Sigfox Network Operator, is ramping up the deployment of Britain’s first dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) network, as it commits to providing 95% of the UK population coverage by 2019.
As the promise of the IoT becomes a reality, service providers and manufacturers are looking for reliable and affordable network solutions to power the billions of low-powered devices expected to come online over the next few years. Traditional cellular networks, such as 4G LTE are too expensive and resource-hungry for many low-cost applications, while other technologies do not offer the range needed to implement a nationwide network.
Sigfox is the world’s first dedicated low-power wide-area communications service for the Internet of Things. Harnessing ultra-narrow band technology, Sigfox provides basic connectivity to devices that do not require high throughput. This unique approach is ideally suited to the vast majority of IoT devices as it requires very little power – enabling devices to run for years on a single battery. Sigfox also enables the use of low cost devices and cost-effective network usage.
“In a world of IoT, tomorrow’s smart devices will need to be wirelessly multilingual,” said Neal Forse, chief executive, WND-UK. “In other words, they will need to be able to communicate across different kinds of networks and choose the most appropriate technology for specific tasks so that performance and battery life are optimised.
“Sub-gigahertz networks, such as Sigfox, require far less power and provide much longer battery life for the many devices that only require intermittent internet connectivity and the transmission of small amounts of data.”
The operator has adopted a dynamic rollout strategy, prioritising deployments to meet customer demand. Since the launch of its UK operation in March 2017, the operator has installed 50 base stations, already providing coverage to nearly a third of the UK’s population.
WND-UK has put partnerships at the centre of its business model and already has a strong ecosystem of channel partners looking to utilise its IoT network, including flood detection provider LeakSafe and IoT solutions providers such as Real Time Logistics Solutions (RTLS), SPICA Technologies, Amphy and Low Power Radio Solutions (LPRS).
View from the channel
Real Time Logistics Solutions Ltd (RTLS) was formed in 2001 as a technology company with emphasis upon asset management, smart sensor development, reusable core technology, OEE monitoring and IoT infrastructure.
Peter Milton, managing director said: “Our mission is to meet future industry requirements by use of innovative technology and creative partnerships. We’re now working closely with WND-UK as a channel partner to assist in the provision of the Sigfox national network. The sensor technology available via WND will significantly improve the cost basis for implementing IoT systems and provide the necessary spring board to wider international coverage and business opportunities.”
Spica Technologies, a specialist systems integrator and IoT solutions provider working in the UK’s facilities management (FM) sector relies on WND’s Sigfox network to connect a range of sensor-driven solutions. These include its FM ‘smart cleaning’ platform and a unique water monitoring solution, developed to address the risks associated with Legionella in healthcare and public sector buildings.
Tim Streather, co-founder of Spica Technologies, commented: “Working with WND-UK is a huge plus for us because its approach to building out a Sigfox network that extends throughout the UK is very different to those attempts made by previous network operators. WND’s dynamic rollout strategy ensures that Sigfox base stations can be deployed at customer sites anywhere in the UK and be fully operational within weeks.”
Forse concluded: “The applications our channel partners are working on today demonstrate how IoT technology has the potential to completely transform business models.
“Sigfox is the lowest cost, lowest power technology for IoT applications, and we’re already well underway with delivery of a robust and cost-effective Sigfox network.”
WND plans to replicate the success it has seen in Latin America, having successfully deployed Sigfox networks throughout Brazil, Mexico, Columbia and Argentina.