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Australian government backs Sigfox deployment

Steve Rogerson
August 24, 2017

The Australian government is putting money into the IoT by investing $10m into Thinxtra, which is deploying Sigfox LPWAN technology. The money comes from the government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
Australian company Thinxtra aims to cover 95 per cent of the populations of Australia and New Zealand with its Sigfox network by the end of the year.
"Australia is a vast country with a scattered population,” said CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth. “A large amount of energy is expended in physically monitoring millions of pallets, waste containers, gas canisters, farm gates, livestock and more. By providing a low-cost solution for tracking and monitoring these assets, we can save a huge amount of emissions.”
He said the finance for Thinxtra would help build support technology to play a key role in transitioning the Australian economy to net zero emissions by the second half of the century.
"We're talking about the potential to operate smarter cities, more energy efficient and liveable buildings, better monitoring of environmental assets, better health monitoring and more sustainable agricultural practices," he said
The CEFC's $10m commitment, through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, is part of Thinxtra's $20m series B capital round. The Clean Energy Innovation Fund draws on the combined skills and experience of the CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) to support the growth of clean energy technologies and businesses that are critical to Australia's clean energy transformation.
CEFC investment development director Blair Pritchard said a whole range of devices already on the market – including GPS locators, temperature sensors and water meters – could be operated more efficiently through the LPWAN technology.
"The proliferation of devices that enable remote monitoring, tracking and operation is transforming the way we live," Pritchard said. "However, connecting them to existing internet services can be a bit like using a four-lane highway when a footpath would suffice, or hiring a whole bus to send one person to the shops. Thinxtra's LPWAN technology requires far less power and provides much longer battery life for devices that only require the transmission of small amounts of data and intermittent internet connectivity.”
He said the low-cost technology would make it economically viable to connect a vast number of lower-value assets to a network over great distances.
“We see it as an important addition to the rapidly developing IoT ecosystem," he said.
More than 150 local businesses have already partnered with Thinxtra to leverage its network technology to create operational efficiencies in a wide range of industries, such as:

  • Smart water meter service companies that enable large water users to detect leaks;
  • Smart farming service providers with waterproof data communicators that integrate with software and sensors to provide daily data on soil, weather and other environmental monitoring; and
  • Smart logistics providers with cold-chain monitoring trackers to increase traceability of food and reduce wastage.
"We will be the low power wide area network of choice for IoT and we're aiming for 17 million objects connected by the end of 2022," said Thinxtra CEO Loic Barancourt. "Thinxtra's IoT network provides the lowest device-to-cloud connectivity, at the lowest level of energy consumption and is complementary to Bluetooth, RFID, 2G, 3G, 4G and wifi technologies. Our network has been designed with IoT in mind. It is open and an extension of the global Sigfox network, based on antennae and base station infrastructure that is independent of existing telco networks."
Renald Gallis, VP of marketing for Thinxtra, added: “Our low cost, low power, long range IoT network is perfect for deploying simple solutions to make cities smarter, buildings more energy efficient, agriculture more sustainable. Industries working with us are seeing efficiency but also gaining deep insights and better service outcomes for their customers. Their supply chain and the risk and governance issues they are challenged by are being solved. Sustainability is crucial to business and the community today.”
He said he estimated the Australian market to represent 100 million IoT devices connecting through the Thinxtra network by 2025.
The CEFC invests to increase the flow of finance into the clean energy sector. Its mission is to accelerate Australia towards a more competitive economy in a carbon constrained world, by acting as a catalyst to increase investment in emissions reduction.