CEO spotlight: Senet’s Bruce Chatterley wants to ride the next wave of wireless
The internet of things is not a new idea for Bruce Chatterley, whose background has included stints at wireless carriers Clearwire and US West as well as cloud service providers Colt and Layered Technologies. Chatterley has been learning about the IoT for years, and he believes the industry is finally poised to deliver on its potential.
“Two barriers to entry have come down,” Chatterley said. He said one is cost: prices for radio equipment, sensors, and long-lasting batteries have all decreased dramatically. The other is connectivity: Chatterley said the LoRa standard gives the indusry “an open global standard for connectivity.”
LoRa stands for long range, and LoRa technology uses unlicensed spectrum to transmit data over long distances using low-power radios. The core technology was created by chip designer Semtech, which now hopes to license it to other chipmakers. LoRa is gaining traction worldwide as enterprises see the opportunity to monitor assets by connecting them to the internet with relatively inexpensive technology.
Senet is building a LoRa network that it says will be the first public low-power wide area network for the IoT market in North America. In June the company named Chatterley as its new CEO and president. He understands the wireless side of the business as well as the cloud-based analytics that give value to connected devices.
“I love this concept of this huge developer community digitizing physical devices, and that does no good unless you can connect that digital variation with analytics,” said Chatterley. “Lots of people in lots of verticals are digitizing,
and we take that digital implementation and connect it to analytics.”
Recently Senet announced a partnership with Mueller Systems, a subsidiary of publicly traded Mueller Water Products, to deliver advanced metering infrastructure to water utilities across North America. The companies said they will deploy a network of wireless IoT sensors for water metering and management applications designed to boost utility provider efficiencies.
In the United States, Senet’s radios use the unlicensed industrial, scientific and medical 900 MHz frequency bands. Chatterley said the Federal Communications Commission has certified that Senet’s radios do not interfere with adjacent licensed spectrum.
Chatterley said Senet’s network has already been deployed in 225 U.S. cities, and that the company can show customers specific coverage maps. He said some of Senet’s antennas are large enough to require tower infrastructure, but many can be deployed on rooftops.
“We have worked with a wide variety of tower companies as well as building owners, as well as various businesses and partners,” Chatterley said. “We can sit with customers and show coverage models — those models are our intellectual property.”
New business model
Chatterley said that Senet has used two distinct business models in the past. One is the deployment of public networks that any enterprise or service provider can potentially access. The other is the deployment of private networks, operated as services for enterprise customers.
Now Senet is exploring what Chatterley calls a hybrid model. He said companies that have access to radio tower locations can deploy LoRa equipment and Senet can manage the network on the owner’s behalf. He said Senet can apply its operations support system and business support system software, and also sign up application providers.
Chatterley said Senet is currently talking to “major communication providers” in the U.S. about potential cooperation. To date, none of the U.S. wireless carriers have announced investment in LoRa technologies, but cable operator Comcast has said it will trial LoRa networks.
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