For several months, the French IoT world has been in the throes of changes. Sigfox’s setbacks and Bouygues Telecom’s announcement that Bouygues Telecom would stop supporting LoRa technology caused a stir. These two events, apparently quite distinct, could suggest a general weakening of the French IoT sector, but these would only be fabrications.
We can actually see that these two operators have bet on a similar approach when they launched. They have invested heavily, with the ambition of offering a complete connection ecosystem capable of meeting all customer needs, via two technologies LPWAN (long range, low power) different. Years later, the dissonance between the initial promise and the reality on the ground can explain the disappointment felt on the market and the adventures that accompany it. At the same time, many local authorities have invested in their own long-distance, low-consumption collection network through LoRa and offers from its partners. These concomitant factors have contributed to jeopardizing the business models of companies such as Sigfox.
IoT, a mature market but a fragmented offer
We are now seeing a French IoT market reaching maturity. After several years of proof of concept (PoC), customers want turnkey projects, demonstrating tangible benefits, cost control and sustainability. It therefore becomes important to demonstrate scalability. Proofs of concept should only be a lever, not an end. Few vendors today are able to meet this customer need, and that’s exactly what the market needs to take it to the next level.
The market LPWAN French concentrates around offers made by three national players, two of them betting on the network LoRaWAN and the third on its own network (Sigfox). This results in cannibalization, which is not conducive to the reliable development of the sector. But the problem does not stop at the French borders, we also notice a fragmentation of offers internationally. LPWAN, resulting in slower adoption, not meeting market expectations and expectations. The number of projects is increasing more slowly than one might imagine, which explains the difficulties that the sector is currently encountering. Too many operators were present on the same niche, resulting in certain cannibalization, including news Sigfox and objenious are just symptoms.
Finding a reliable business model for IoT and LPWAN networks
Now, the challenge is to demonstrate real feedback to convince customers and encourage the adoption of large-scale projects. Connected territories, sometimes referred to by the generalized designation of Smart Citiesare the most promising projects for networks LPWAN because of the many possible use cases and applications. But, instead of focusing on infrastructure only, providers LPWAN would benefit from focusing on digital use cases and the possibilities of exploiting measurement results, or even monetization, linked to the many sensors and connected objects in place.
Despite their certain interest, connected territory projects face a problem: they are carried out by public bodies, with very long decision cycles. To be able to secure their position in this market and develop at a sustained pace, IoT players must rely on use cases managed by private companies. This will make it possible to demonstrate a concrete return on investment, in applications specific to the “smart building” or “smart industry” sectors.
The network LoRaWAN has demonstrated its ability to connect all use cases, private and public, involved in a logic of connected territory, by integrating good management of data confidentiality and encryption, with security managed across the whole of the collection chain. In addition, the network appears to be sustainable, with connectivity durability expressed in decades, where LTE-m and NB-IoT can, like their cellular predecessors, live on shorter cycles of 5 to 10 years. The withdrawal of one of the national operators from the LoRaWAN shows that the rate of change of a telecommunications player is much faster than the need of local authorities for certain equipment, which cannot be renewed in these periods.
Since the end of 2021, theInternational Telecommunications Union recognized the network LoRaWAN as a standard, thus reinforcing the development of this technology which has already won over many professionals. The ultra-low power and the brevity of the messages sent induce the possibility of high frugality, conducive to the use of energy-efficient and inexpensive IoT. This technology is now widely used internationally and provides coverage of vast territories, alongside networks such as Sigfox and new NB-IoT / LTE-M technologies.
The upheavals we are currently experiencing in the IoT market are also the perfect opportunity to take stock of the situation, rethink business models and accelerate adoption by using the most appropriate solutions to combine frugality, autonomy energy, cost and capacity to deliver the expected data for the required quality of service.
Tribune by Bruno Hamamlian, Data4Business Unit Director at Birdz
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