SigFox SA, a French startup that offers long-range cellular network radio technology dedicated to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT), has raised a Series D funding round of €100 million (about $115 million).
The company already has extensive deployment in France and is rolling out networks in Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and soon the United States. It plans to use the funds to accelerate the roll out of its network in Europe, Asia and the Americas, and this could include a listing on a U.S. stock exchange according to reports.
SigFox (Toulouse, France) was founded in 2009 and uses proprietary ultra-narrow band (UNB) radio technology to provide a low-power cellular infrastructure dedicted to machine-to-machine M2M communications and IoT. The UNB radio operates in license-free ISM bands and combines with software defined radio techniques performed at the basestation to achieve high sensitivity and therefore long distance communications at efficient energy levels. The basestations are said to operate over ranges of 3 to 10 kilometers in urban areas and up to 30 to 50 kilometers in rural areas.
The latest round has brought in a number of industrial and telecommunications companies as strategic investors, including Spain's Telefonica, NTT Docomo of Japan and South Korea's SK Telecom. Other investors in the current round include: GDSuez, Air Liquide and Eutelsat.
Telcos get on board IoT networks
This D-series round follows three previous rounds that totaled €30 million (about $35 million) and which includes Intel Capital and Partech Ventures amongst its investors.
The round comprises a first close of $93 million with a further $22 million available for other strategic partners to join the share capital in the next few months. The company said other telcos will be welcome to join as capital participants in the future with the objective of standardizing the SigFox technology during the company’s worldwide roll out.
"This record $115 million round is a significant step in the development of our network’s coverage all around the world. The trust of our investors and the dynamism of SigFox’s team allow us to strengthen our position as the world leader in IoT communications," said Anne Lauvergeon, SigFox chair of the board of directors, in a statement.
The move by telecommunications service operators to partner with SigFox marks a move to a complementary strategy that pairs up low-bandwidth low-power M2M communications with high bandwidth networks. SigFox said it has a vision of unifying such communications into a single network so that traffic can take place in the most efficient manner from both the energy and throughput points of view.
"Eutelsat’s investment in SigFox signals our conviction that satellites can accelerate the development of the IoT market, both in terms of reach and reliability," said Jean-Hubert Lenotte, director of strategy at Eutelsat, in the same statement. "Eutelsat is constantly looking at innovative developments that push back the boundaries of our markets, add value for our customers and anchor satellites in an increasingly connected economy."
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