Actility, a specialist in low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) connectivity for the IoT, has announced Cisco as a participant in its $75 million Series D funding round.
This most recent tranche of investment was first announced back in April, when BNP Paribas, Creadev, Orange, Inmarsat and Robert Bosch Venture Capital were named as participants. At a LoRa Alliance event in Philadelphia yesterday, Actility revealed it could add Cisco to its list of backers.
“Cisco’s strategic investment… further enhances the collaboration of two complementary IoT solution providers with big plans for the connected world,” said Actility CEO Mike Mulica.
With this funding, the company says it will be able to roll out industrial IoT solutions for key areas such as logistics and supply chain, smart buildings, and energy and utilities.
The funding raises some questions about Cisco’s long-term intentions – is seven year-old Actility perhaps an acquisition target?
After all, Cisco is a highly acquisitive company, with healthy cash reserves and its sights firmly set on developing its IoT portfolio, as evidenced by its $1.4 billion purchase of Jasper Technologies, announced in February 2016.
And the two companies are already partners, with Actility joining Cisco’s IoT ecosystem programme, also in February 2016.
In a public statement, Amit Chaturvedy, head of IoT investments and acquisitions at Cisco, praised Actility’s work in developing LPWA technology.
“Cisco is focused on enabling the rapid proliferation of IoT through LPWA technologies, including LoRaWAN gateways and geolocation services,” he said.
“We invest in companies that share our passion for helping customers and are leaders in their technologies. Actility is dedicated to a great customer experience through the LPWA IoT on-boarding, operating and monetization experience.”
LPWA networks occupy a middle ground between wide-area cellular network technologies and more localised, short-range networks such as Bluetooth, Zigbee and WiFi variants. According to analyst Andrew Zigani at ABI Research, LPWANs and cellular-based networks are poised to steal market share from more localized technologies.
“LPWAN technologies including RPMA, SIGFOX, LoRa, LTE Cat-M1, NB-IoT, and EC-GSM-IoT comprise a very competitive and rapidly evolving IoT connectivity landscape,” he writes in a recent report. “These technologies are specifically designed for IoT and are arguably much better matches for outdoor, larger-scale IoT applications due to their abilities to target greater coverage areas, their ease of deployment, and their greater scalability.”