New Zealand Stock Exchange listed technology company Rakon has pumped $A5.8 million into Australian startup IoT network operator Thinxtra, which is planning to rollout a Sigfox low powered wide area network covering 85 percent of the Australian population by late 2018. It aims to cover 30 percent of the population by the end of 2015.
Thinxtra says it will offer universities and other tertiary education and training providers free student connections to its network and will provide development kits for educational tools. “Down the track, we would like to extend our involvement – for example, by sponsoring competitions for the most creative applications,” the company said.
Thinxtra was last year awarded an exclusive license to roll out and operate Sigfox networks in Australia and New Zealand. It will be competing with IoTOz, which is planning to roll out a network using Ingenu technology, and local startup National Narrowband Network Communications, which is planning a LoRaWAN network.
Rakon has an option to invest a further $A3.0 million, which it says it intends to exercise. Rakon took an initial 11 percent stake for $A800,000 in December 2015. The latest investment takes its total to $A5.8m for a 63.8 percent stake. It says this would reduce to 47.7 percent in the event that Thinxtra’s founding shareholders chose to exercise all their outstanding options. Rakon says Thinxtra expects to raise a total of $A20 million, some via a capital raising round set to open later this year.
Rakon said it had considered partnering directly with Sigfox as its NZ network operator. But “We saw Thinxtra’s expertise, and saw the potential for one company to develop a Sigfox network across New Zealand and Australia presented an even greater opportunity.” It added: “Given our shareholding, we will play an active role in the company’s governance; however, Thinxtra has a strong and experienced senior management team in place.”
In a presentation, Rakon said Thinxtra’s rollout would begin this year with the aim of having 85 percent population coverage by late 2017 and becoming cashflow positive by March 2018. Thinxtra will also roll out a nationwide Sigfox network in New Zealand.
Sigfox described the move as a major milestone in its plans to roll out its network across the whole Asia Pacific region within the next three years and another step in its 2016 goals of rolling out the service in more than 30 countries. It has a target of being active in 60 countries by 2018.
Rakon said “significant and ongoing revenues” would come from subscriptions, from selling components to the manufacturers and suppliers of connected hardware and other applications, and from providing tailored services and solutions to network users.
Rakon CEO, Brent Robinson, said his company’s investment in Thinxtra would provide “an excellent opportunity to leverage future IoT business opportunities thanks to [Rakon’s] core technology and ability to develop new products for the IoT market.” Rakon claims a 50 year history of innovation in communications technology. Today it designs and manufactures frequency-control and timing products for telecommunications, global positioning and space and defence applications.