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Wireless tech detaches from traditional networks

Posted: 08 Apr 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Senaptic? IoT? wireless?

Plextek's spinout, Senaptic, is putting its mother company's ultra narrowband technology for the IoT on the market, with the purpose of globally expanding on a hundred-people scale in 18 months.

Under the Apella brand, Senaptic will provide for basestations, sensors and apps using the long range, low bit rate technology to system integrators and building contractorsremoving the dependency on mobile operators in the process.

The technology has already been used by other Plextek spinout companies for vehicle tracking and smart street lighting, which will now become licensees of Senaptic. The technology is also being used for a large scale smart parking trial in Moscow and Plextek has already shipped over 6 million devices to 30 countries.

Will Franks

Franks: Avoiding mobile operators is key to success.

"What attracted me about it is [it's] wireless. I'm always fascinated with wireless and the particular uses of this type of technology," said Will Franks, Senaptic CEO and co-founder of Swindon-based small cell pioneer Ubiquisys that was sold to Cisco in 2013.

Franks added: "It's clear that the Internet of Things is more than just game-changing. It is world-changing. The big question is how it can be rapidly developed and monetized...The other interesting aspect is this can be done without the stranglehold of the mobile operators because they own the spectrum so it can be the local government, utilities or building contractors."

The technology is now in its fourth generation and has been used commercially for five years.

"What Senaptic is doing is finding system integrator partners in the regions and they are the ones that implement the systems for the local governments and utilities. Rather than be an operator and rollout a network and then find customers we are building on the business case. We are providing an end to end system for different verticals such as parking, street lighting, smart meters. We own the IP and the products for the base stations and the sensor technology and the middleware and we partner for the actual applications," Franks explained.

The system uses a 60bit/s 120Hz link in a number of bands with a basestation the size of a large shoe box linking unidirectional or bidirectional sensors. The basestation has 3G backhaul that supports 5000 devices off each basestation, and is very easy to install using PoE, according to Franks.

The system employs 868MHz in Europe, 470MHz in China, 950MHz in the US. There are some bands that are ISM or where a company or a city has their own spectrum, where a 2km range or a 10km range can be gotten depending on the application.

"We are avoiding white space at this time as it's quite difficult to guarantee you have clear space and it's difficult to build a reliable system on white space at the moment," he added

The initial focus is on infrastructure roll out rather than consumer systems, he says. "I expect we will do [consumer systems] but we need some further maturity in the market, getting devices smaller with better battery life the lifetime is 5 years for the parking system in Moscow and we can go up to 10 years but we do need to get the sensors down in size and cost," he said.

The new venture also includes co-founder and CEO of Plextek, Tim Jackson, as CTO. "A vast market exists for IoT solutions across sectors as diverse as smart energy, healthcare, asset tracking and much more," said Jackson. "Senaptics focus is as much on understanding the opportunity as on applying technology that has already proven itself in the market. We are now looking forward to expansion throughout 2014 and well beyond."

- Nick Flaherty
??EE Times Europe

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