Orange is taking another leap into the Internet of Things, France’s largest telecom company announced today. In addition to their existing line of Orange Home connected products, Orange has announced plans to roll out at network dedicated to the Internet of Things, which will be built on top of the Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWaN, or LoRa for short) protocol. The news comes after competitor Bouygues Telecom announced it had already begun testing out various IoT network solutions for a network it plans to roll out as early as 2016.
“Orange has an ambition to become the number one operator for the Internet of Things. To answer all the needs, we decided, as a supplement to the cellular networks, to deploy a national network dedicated to objects that need narrow-band connectivity, and also to low energy consumption. This network, based on the technology LoRa, will gradually open from the first quarter of 2016.” Stephane Richard – CEO, Orange
This news comes to no surprise – Orange was among the only telecom companies NOT present in SIGFOX’s €100 Million fundraising round, whose investor’s include Telefonica, SK Telecom & NTTDoCoMo. Additionally, my previous interactions with Orange (through Connected Conference and elsewhere) have made it pretty clear that Orange is dubious of SIGFOX’s potential.
The telecom industry has been divided on the subject of the future of IoT Networks. At Connected Conference this past summer, then Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes (now head of SFR, another Telecom company in France which was acquired by Altice last year) said that a contextually aware 5G network was the future for IoT, with a network that can allocate bandwidth on a per-device basis, something that 4G can’t do today. Meanwhile, the debate between closed (SIGFOX) & open (LoRa) wages on, and the money will continue to flow into this space in the coming 18 months, as each player throws money at their vision of the future hoping that it will stick.
Update: This article has been modified, removing an opinion that was deemed unjustified by the editor. Carry on.