John Horn recalls his first encounter with RPMA (Random Phase Multiple Access) several years before he became CEO of On-Ramp Wireless, the company behind the wireless technology. "I was fascinated by what it brought to the table," he says. "It's the only technology designed from the ground up to meet the needs of machines without going through a human interface first."
Back then, Horn was still CEO of Raco Wireless, a managed services provider catering to the machine-to-machine (M2M) communications sector. But when rival KORE Wireless Group Inc. acquired Raco in late 2014, Horn wasted little time. "The first thing I did was to call a couple of Board members at On-Ramp, who had previously tried to recruit me, and say, 'I love your technology and I want to license it and build a network'."
It's now almost one year since Horn took up the leadership role at On-Ramp, and the company has changed nearly beyond recognition in that period. Having originally focused on building private networks for utilities and municipalities, the San Diego-based firm has rebranded as Ingenu -- a name that means "simply genius," according to Horn -- and is now positioning itself as a key player in the fast-developing market for low-power, wide-area (LPWA) network technologies. "With the contracts we've signed we cover about three quarters of the world's population and so we are rapidly moving towards being a global standard," says Horn.
Like other purveyors of LPWA technologies, Ingenu relies on unlicensed spectrum and claims to be far more energy-efficient, and much better at supporting long-distance connections, than cellular. All of that makes it ideal for a range of emerging Internet of Things (IoT) applications, says Horn, including smart metering, asset tracking and fleet management. Organizations in 53 countries have now signed licensing deals with Ingenu, and the company is also building out a RPMA network in the US that it will operate itself.
So far, only a few of Ingenu's international partners have been revealed, but Horn insists this is because Ingenu does not want any publicity until licensees have launched at least one major application on RPMA technology. "There are some companies that are really good at announcing fluff and we want to announce meat," he tells Light Reading. "We literally have an announcement a week lined up for the next six months."
Lack of publicly announced deals notwithstanding, Ingenu's progress seems impressive. Sigfox , a French company with a similar technology and business model, is active in only 18 countries, even though it has been vigorously promoting itself for years. Scathing in his assessment of Sigfox's technology, Horn reckons the French player's relentless marketing has played into Ingenu's hands. "Sigfox is my greatest sales force right now," he says. "They are doing a great job of waking people up to the need and then turning around and not being able to deliver a viable product."
Next page: LPWA turf wars