UnaBiz Joins LoRa Alliance, Embarking on Yet Another Partnership in “Convergence” Crusade

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By Elizabeth Stokes | 3Q 2023 | IN-7019

Massive Internet of Things (IoT) service provider UnaBiz announced this month that it is joining the LoRa Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes the LoRaWAN standard and is devoted to standardizing Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs). The company’s induction into the Alliance aligns with UnaBiz’s convergence strategy, a company-wide effort to unify LPWANs in the IoT industry.

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UnaBiz Joins LoRa Alliance


Singapore-based Internet of Things (IoT) service provider UnaBiz announced in July that it would join the LoRa Alliance. UnaBiz is now one of more than 400 members contributing to the Alliance, a nonprofit that champions the LoRaWAN standard and promotes Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) standardization. UnaBiz made a series of strategic partnerships in the Spring of 2023 to bolster its “convergence strategy,” a corporate ambition to promote interoperability between LPWANs in the IoT industry. UnaBiz's induction as a Contributor member of the LoRa Alliance can be considered the next step in its convergence mission and signals that an increasing number of IoT vendors are favoring collaboration over competition.

UnaBiz Marches Ahead with Convergence Strategy


UnaBiz famously acquired Sigfox in April 2022 after the French IoT company filed for bankruptcy protection. At the time of the acquisition, co-founder and co-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UnaBiz, Henri Bong, said, “UnaBiz and Sigfox will strive towards the convergence of LPWAN. The new Sigfox will reinvent itself and collaborate with other IoT communication technologies to seize new market opportunities.” Thus began a series of strategic announcements and partnerships designed to bolster UnaBiz's unification vision.

In April of this year, UnaBiz released the Sigfox 0G technology device library code to the public, allowing developers and engineers to integrate Sigfox’s technology more easily with their own. Bong said releasing the library was necessary for convergence, explaining that an open ecosystem encourages IoT players to create customized IoT technology tailored to specific use cases. In other words, according to UnaBiz, a unified LPWAN landscape would allow the IoT industry to respond to customer needs more dynamically.

Shortly after UnaBiz released Sigfox’s device library code, it was announced that UnaBiz and Actility integrated and enabled data sharing between their platforms. Bong commented that Actility, a founding member of the LoRa Alliance and a co-inventor of LoRaWAN, was one of the first LoRaWAN partners to share UnaBiz’s goal of convergence. A month later, UnaBiz announced a similar partnership with another founding member of the LoRa Alliance, Senet. The Senet-UnaBiz partnership partially entails a collaboration that would allow Senet customers to easily use UnaBiz’s global 0G network. This rapid series of partnerships underscores UnaBiz’s dedication to unification and interoperability, and also reveals that more industry players are willing to open their ecosystems if it means customers can expand IoT deployments.

UnaBiz’s ability to collaborate with other LPWA vendors is impressive—some of its newly found partners are considered industry giants, and the connectivity market for the IoT is famously competitive. Partnering with LoRa Alliance founding members signals that companies within the nonprofit share UnaBiz’s convergence vision or are at least aware of the benefits that interoperability could bring to their businesses. UnaBiz’s induction into the LoRa Alliance is a logical step forward in the company’s convergence crusade.

Become Comfortable with Collaboration and Hybrid Connectivity


In the announcement about UnaBiz's LoRa Alliance membership, CEO and Chairwoman of LoRa Alliance Donna Moore said that UnaBiz’s “viewpoints on multi-protocol business models align with the LoRa Alliance’s strategy that complementary protocols are required to address Massive IoT use case solutions.” UnaBiz is adamant that massive IoT applications will remain underserved by the IoT market if providers continue to develop their technologies in siloes, and some LPWAN players seem to agree. IoT connectivity vendors, particularly in the long-range connectivity space, should anticipate that a collaborative, cooperative atmosphere may be growing in the market. IoT providers that insist on fierce competition and single-vendor lock-in could miss out on potentially profitable partnerships and collaborations.

Vendors should also consider that UnaBiz’s multi-protocol strategy has already been adopted by many IoT users. Customers often use different networks simultaneously, architecting hybrid IoT deployments that use a cellular LPWAN and LoRaWAN, for example. This is also true for long-range and short-range connectivity technologies, as many IoT customers see the benefit of using an LPWAN and Short Range Wireless (SRW) devices simultaneously in an IoT deployment. For example, customers can leverage Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) devices in asset tracking applications and use a cellular backhaul, extending Bluetooth’s role in traditionally long-range use cases. Rather than viewing short-range and long-range technologies as competitors, many customers take a complementary view, using one connectivity type to fill in the gaps of the other. Customers can carry this collaborative sentiment over to long-range technologies, viewing hybrid LPWAN arrangements as an ideal way to extend the reach of an IoT deployment.

However, it is understandable that some connectivity vendors would hesitate to fully embrace this multi-protocol strategy. Connectivity providers are accustomed to the intense competition of the wireless networking market and might be in the habit of fiercely defending their network’s capabilities at the expense of other technologies. Asking competitors to now collaborate and open their proprietary products to partnerships and integrations will likely isolate as many connectivity vendors as it entices. And though customers are more willing to use multiple connectivity technologies, UnaBiz will confront a certain amount of resistance from incumbent customers that have deployed only one networking type for years. These legacy customers could have limited their connectivity technology because a provider insisted years ago that its technology was the only viable option. It might be difficult to convince these customers that uniting LPWANs, after years of market fragmentation, is a stable strategy.

There are also technical limitations that could threaten the commercial success of dual connectivity strategies. Multi-protocol hardware requires more radios, and therefore more antennas, increasing the overall cost and complexity of the device. These devices also consume more power, potentially limiting their applicability in long-range use cases. It is also not guaranteed that multi-protocol devices will be able to access multiple networks in any given area, meaning that network providers might have to expand access, or users might have to build a private network, to gain the consistent connectivity that customers expect from multi-protocol deployments. Low-power networks and technical advances, such as combo antennas, can mitigate the rising cost and high battery consumption of multi-protocol devices, but more technological innovations are likely needed to simplify the development of these devices and improve the Return on Investment (ROI) of these types of solutions.

The LoRa Alliance will give UnaBiz more resources to investigate the innovations needed to achieve technology convergence. It seems that much of the market is encouraged by UnaBiz’s unification strategy, including many IoT customers that are already deploying multiple technologies and would be eager for a more cooperative market environment. Vendors should confront this reality, investing in partnerships that make it easier for customers to design hybrid connectivity use cases suited to their needs. Providers that can put competition aside and not only allow these hybrid arrangements, but encourage them through active system integrations, such as the platform integrations between UnaBiz and Actility, will find favor among the customers that have already realized the value of using multiple networking technologies to optimize IoT applications.