Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Smart-grid player Arqiva to develop UK M2M network with Sigfox

Iain Morris
May 20, 2014
UK infrastructure player Arqiva has unveiled plans to build a dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) network – in partnership with France’s Sigfox – that may be used to support the smart-grid services it is currently deploying in Scotland and northern England.

The company said it would start with ten of the UK’s biggest cities, using the ultra-narrowband technology Sigfox (Toulouse, France) has developed specifically for use with M2M services.

Arqiva (Winchester, UK) said the Sigfox technology was particularly suited to connecting objects over long distances where long battery life and low cost are required.

However, the UK network is also intended to be capable of connecting to Sigfox’s global IoT network, opening up new service opportunities for Arqiva.

Sigfox has currently rolled out services in France, the Netherlands and Spain, and is also supporting M2M technology in cities including Moscow and Munich, with devices able to operate in any country where the network is available, according to the company.

Sigfox claims that it already serves a number of major international businesses and evidently sees a partnership with a major M2M player in the UK as the optimum means of further expanding its network.

“The UK has an active, fast-growing IoT market, and our partnership with Arqiva is a significant part of Sigfox’s plan to establish a global cellular network dedicated to the IoT,” said Rodolphe Baronnet-Fruges, the vice president of network and business development for Sigfox.

“According to some forecasts, there will be 50 billion connected devices worldwide by 2020, but for this to become a reality, both cost and energy use will have to come down,” he added. “That’s the solution Sigfox offers, and we’re proud that Arqiva is bringing it to the UK.”

Arqiva emerged as one of the big winners in the UK’s 2013 tender for smart-meter work, signing a £625 million ($1.09 billion) contract to roll out services in Scotland and northern England, and it has teamed up with Sensus (London, UK) on the development of communications technology for the new network.

The partnership with Sigfox seems likely to have some bearing on the type of services that will be offered to smart-grid users.

“Our smart metering communications service, connecting 10 million homes using long-range radio technology, will be one of the UK’s largest M2M deployments,” said Wendy McMillan, managing director of smart metering and M2M solutions.

“Our partnership with Sigfox, and the new dedicated IoT network we are building, will provide nationwide low-power connectivity for the first time,” she added. “This massively expands the range of devices that can be connected, increasing the benefits to consumers and businesses alike.”

Arqiva’s aim is to roll out services nationwide, starting with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield.

Clearly, that list includes a number of cities where Arqiva has not secured smart-grid contracts, Spain’s Telefonica (Madrid) having emerged as the big winner in the UK’s central and southern regions.
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