SAN JOSE, Calif. — Seeking growth in the Internet of Things, a network services provider hired a new chief executive with a new strategy. He claims that IoT is on the cusp of gaining traction but joined a growing chorus calling for lower-cost, more reliable sensors to get there.
IoT has “been an industry locked in proof-of-concepts — a PoC purgatory — but this year, we’re seeing dramatic shifts to real deployments,” said Bruce Chatterley, named CEO of Senet last June.
The company boasts the largest network in North America using LoRa, a low-power wide-area net. It had about 35,000 end nodes deployed as of May 2016 but “will grow into hundreds of thousands by the end of year,” said Chatterley, promising “year-over-year doubling for the foreseeable future.”
“We’ve grown, but not as fast as we’d like, and that’s why they hired me,” said the veteran of several startups as well as stints at IBM, GE, and carriers.
He called for sensors geared for LoRa that could serve multiple vertical markets including asset tracking and health care at costs below $20. He also asked vendors to certify that their sensors run on LoRa networks.
“The most important thing I’m seeing is a lack of mature sensors certified against LoRa. Sometimes devices don’t work in real networks when they are deployed.”
Another Senet executive made a similar call just before Chatterley joined the company. Since then, a Walmart executive and engineers from Arm called for ultra-low-cost sensors and silicon for asset tracking.
The situation is better for LoRa gateways, with nearly a dozen certified to run on Senet’s network. They range from a 64-channel gateway that costs nearly $4,000 and covers thousands of nodes to $100 microcells that cover large parts of a single building.
Senet’s LoRa net typically serves nodes transmitting no more than a few packets an hour across ranges from 70 rural to two urban miles. Senet’s rates for managing nets varies widely from 25 to 80 cents per node per month based on the number of nodes and their network use.