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White space startup launches M2M network products

Neul CEO and founder, James Collier

UK white space startup Neul has launched a new network technology, NeulNet, which it says will “revolutionise” the M2M and local broadband sectors. The firm, which launched in September 2010 under the leadership of a group of former Cambridge Silicon Radio executives,  has developed the technology to run in the unused white space spectrum around TV transmissions.

Neulnet works on a new wireless standard that the company has christened Weightless. The firm is banking on that standard being adopted by a range of silicon and kit vendors. It is offering the technology specification on an open source basis to any companies interested in developing M2M products, through membership of the Weightless Special Interest Group, which it has also set up.

The team behind Neul back Ericsson’s assessment that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. CEO and founder James Collier said the firm was working on the assumption that, in the UK, ten connected devices per person was not unrealistic. Announcing the firm’s plan to see the technology deployed globally, Collier said: “This is a new industry that could have a dollar value the same size as the entire cellular industry today.”

Questions remain over whether or not that cellular industry is in a position to adopt another standard, just as it is converging on a worldwide standard in LTE. Collier said that mobile operators are not in a position to divert existing or future cellular capacity to M2M projects as it is needed to meet ballooning demand for consumer and enterprise mobile data usage.

Besides, he said, existing cellular technologies are unsuited to M2M applications. He described 3G as “absolutely hopeless for most M2M applications,” adding that LTE “couldn’t possibly” be used to connect things like smart meters in an efficient and effective manner.

He played up the cost advantages of the new standard, suggesting that a network of six thousand cells could cover the UK at a deployment cost—not including site acquisition—of $50m.

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