On this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, Bruce Chatterley, CEO of Senet, joins Ryan to discuss LoRaWAN and where the best growth opportunities are. Bruce first talks about the differences between public, private, and hybrid LoRaWAN networks and shares insights on their new partnership with Helium, which will allow users to use both the Senet and Helium networks for connectivity. They then discuss what has allowed LoRaWAN to become the most popular LPWAN connectivity option before getting into high-level advice for companies looking to adopt IoT.
Bruce Chatterley is an experienced business leader and entrepreneur. He brings more than 25 years of experience building successful high-growth technology businesses. Before Senet, Bruce was an Independent Growth Consultant and acting CMO to a global fiber optic telecommunications provider in London, UK. He also served as CEO for Layered Technologies, a provider of secure cloud hosting services for Government, Financial Services, and Healthcare applications. Chatterley is an experienced telecom leader, serving as CEO of cloud-based VOIP firms Broadvox and Speakeasy. In addition, he is a former senior executive at Ameritech and US West. Chatterley has also been an early leader in developing the Software-as-a-Service industry, having served as CEO of ViAir and President of eServices for Concur Technologies. Earlier in his career, Chatterley held Senior Sales and Marketing positions at GE and IBM. He earned his BSBA from Central Michigan University and his MBA from the Kogod College of Business Administration at American University.
Interested in connecting with Bruce? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
Senet develops cloud-based software and services used by Network Operators, Application Developers, and System Integrators for the on-demand deployment of IoT networks. Senet operates the largest public, carrier-grade LoRaWAN network in the United States, providing device connectivity through their Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) offering. Senet’s NaaS is available in over 29 states in the US, covering over 2,000 cities. Their comprehensive coverage services are available through various partnerships, including those recently announced with Helium and Eutelsat.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:35) Introduction of Bruce Chatterley and Senet
(04:17) The public LoRaWAN Network
(07:22) How Senet’s public network compares to Helium’s
(09:35) How has LoRaWAN become so popular?
(15:49) Challenges to adoption in the market
(18:00) How companies can evaluate the best hardware
(20:18) Advice for companies getting started in IoT
(23:47) What’s on the horizon for Senet?
– [Voice Over] You are listening to the IoT for All Media Network.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All Podcast. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon and on today’s episode, we have Bruce Chatterley, the CEO and President of Senet. Senet is a company that develops cloud-based software and services used by network operators, application developers, and system integrators for the on-demand deployment of Internet of Things networks. We talk a lot about their largest public carrier grade, LoRaWAN deployment they have in the United States. It’s very interesting to kind of dive into the details there. Talk about kind of the benefits of that. We also talk about LoRaWAN in general, how it’s become kind of the defacto standard for low power wide area networks worldwide and how it’s leading the LP wan market for massive IoT opportunities. We compare that to NB-IoT, LTE-M. Just talk about the biggest contributors and successes that we’ve seen kind of using those technologies. And then we talk about the challenges, the challenges in device growth, the challenges in certifications and getting certifications as well as selecting the right technologies for your deployment and making sure you’re marrying that with the ROI, the costs and all the other things are important to make sure that you have success when you’re deploying IoT. But before we get into that, if any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor, Leverege. Leverege’s I solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com, that’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All Podcast. Welcome Bruce, the IoT For All Show, thanks for being here this week.
– [Bruce] Oh, thank you, thanks for having me.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. I’m very excited about this conversation Senet has been a company that I’ve been I’ve known about and followed and spoke to many people at your company for many years. And it’s exciting to have you come here to talk more about what you have going on and the overall space in general. So I think it’d be great if you could just tell us a little bit more about you, your background experience and anything you think would be relevant for our audience.
– [Bruce] Yeah, great. So I’m Bruce Chatterley, I’m CEO of Senet in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I happen to live in Seattle, but with the Zoom world today, it’s the same as living in Portsmouth. So in terms of my background, I been with the company for a little over four years, I’ve been a technology entrepreneur for 22 years, done a number of startups, growth businesses over the last 22 years in both wireless cloud services and hosting and IoT. Prior to that, I was big telecom guy with Ameritech and US West and then big companies. So Senet is a developer of cloud-based software and services for the rapid deployment of IoT networks where they’re needed, when they’re needed and at the right cost. So when I started with the company in 2017, what I quick quickly realized was that the IoT business is not about building networks and they will come, it’s really about targeting the networks for unique requirements for both geographic coverage, as well as technology propagation. And the best example of that is for example, water meters, which often exist in pits on the sides of homes or businesses, There’s a significant strength of signal and density of network required for those, and you have to hit a certain specific geography. So that’s great example. So really what we did in starting in 2017 was set about the process of architecting a cloud-based platform, that lot of people do really design and deploy these networks on demand. In addition to that, we happen to have been building over number of years, the largest publicly available LoRaWAN network in North America. So we built our network in over 30 states covering over 2000 cities. So that’s kind of a general overview of Senet.
– [Ryan] So tell me a little bit more about the public LoRaWAN network. So a lot of times that I’ve spoken to guests about LoRa, LoRaWAN deployment, solutions, kind of that are using the connectivity. They talk about it more in a private sense. So tell me a little bit more about the public side, kind of how it compares to a private network, as well as the overall benefits and kind of value that provides to the IoT market in general.
– [Bruce] Yeah, sure. And by the way, on our platform, we support both public. And private and hybrid. So, and we figured out a way to commingle all those things. And I’ll talk about that in a second. So in terms of a public network, we really describe that as a network that’s deployed on high towers, that’s essentially umbrella coverage in a market area or in a geographic area that’s generally available to anyone who wants to drop an IoT device down and connect it. So that’s about the best description of a public network that I can give you. A private network is often described as bring your own gateway. So someone buys a small gateway and then the LoRaWAN ecosystem, they can be bought for very, very inexpensive prices, less than a $100 in some cases. And you plug it in to an outlet inside a building, you connect that to the Senet platform for both gateway and device management and application data streaming. And you’ve now got your own network. So what we’ve done is we’ve given you the ability to essentially combine those two where you could actually, if your gateway is connected to the Senet network and you’re inside and you’re inside and your using your own gateway and you walk outside and your application continues to connectivity, you can now seamlessly roam on the public network and vice versa. The other thing that we’ve done is we’ve realized that this country, this continent is massive, and it’s very difficult to cover all the nooks and crannies at a reasonable price with reasonable revenue supports. So we’ve built a, and patented a technology called the LPWAN Virtual Network or LVN. And what this allows is any RAM provider. So anyone who wants to become a provider of LoRaWAN connectivity to deploy a gateway against the Senet Cloud Platform, and you allow other Senet customers to connect to that platform, we’ll share up to 50% of our revenue from those customers, with you for allowing that connection. And that can be a high tower deployment. It can be a building, it can be taking your own private enterprise deployment and opening that up within the building to other applications to be deployed.
– [Ryan] So let me ask you then, how does that compare to kind of what Helium’s approach is, which is to have individuals purchase gateways and kind of help expand a network that way?
– [Bruce] Interesting you should mention that because we’ve announced recently a network interconnection and partnership with Helium. So Senet customers actually can get access not only to the Senet public network, but also to the Helium network under a product that we call Senet Extended Network Services. And so, we are offering access to both the Senet public network and the entire Helium North American Network at no additional charge for that Helium access to our customers. So it’s covered under the Senet charge. So the way that differs is that in the LVN, the LPN virtual network, we actually ask our customers to rate the grade of support for their gateway deployment. So it can be everything from consumer grade, which is what Helium is, where there’s no service level agreements or expectation for upside or up, sorry, uptime to enterprise grade where you have specific metrics for, if it goes down, here’s my response time for when I’m gonna fix it to carrier grade. Which is obviously carrier grade. Based on how you register your gateway, your revenue sharing will follow that. So it’s the least amount of revenue sharing for consumer grade and the highest amount for carrier grade. The Helium Network is obviously consumer grade often sitting in someone’s bathroom window, may or may not be up. And the way they deal with that is they massively deploy these things. So if one’s down, hopefully another one’s up. So that’s how it differs is, the Senet fundamental network is a carrier grade SLA back network. The Senet LVN is governed by the classifications that I talked to you about, and you can opt in only to carrier grade or carrier and enterprise or the whole thing.
– [Ryan] So let me ask you then, when we’re thinking about as a connectivity option, amongst all the other types of connectivity in the landscape for IoT, what about LoRaWAN has kind of allowed it to become so popular, and on top of that, where are you seeing the biggest growth opportunities from a use case or an application perspective? Because obviously each connectivity is better suited for certain applications, depending on certain parameters that are required for it to meet an ROI and to be successful. So from your perspective where does LoRaWAN really kind of lead the way? And what use cases is it really designed for in your opinion?
– [Bruce] Yeah. Well, we always say that it, for example, when people ask me to compare LoRaWAN to LTE-M or NB-IoT what I always respond with is that to your point, each one of these technologies has its own strengths and weaknesses. And it’s really not a matter of one or the other, it’s a matter of matching the strengths to the requirements of the application and the connectivity. So the reason LoRaWAN has become the global standard for LPWAN, low power wide area networking is because, one, it’s an open standard. so it’s a standard, first of all. Two, it’s an open standard, which means anyone can build either networks or devices or applications to the standard and they know what they’re building too. It’s consistent. Three, because it’s an open standard, we’ve now achieved from a global standpoint economies at scale in terms of device production and the availability of networks. And so now we’re starting to see device costs and component costs go down and it’s getting very inexpensive to deploy both devices and connectivity technology, whether you want to bring your own or access a public network. And the last thing I would say is because it’s an open ecosystem, the variety of both devices and applications has become virtually unlimited. Not just in any one country, but in the globe. And you can source devices from pretty much anywhere in pretty much any niche application and that’s growing every day. So from a use case standpoint, the LoRaWAN technology is called LPWAN, it’s called the low power wide area networking, which that it it’s really targeted end to end to primarily battery powered devices. So the entire technology is optimized end to end from a protocol and from a communication standpoint, to really extend the life of the battery to 15 to 20 years on a double A battery. And so the use cases that, that lends it to are things that are battery powered, obviously. And I’ll give you a good example, one of the most successful segments we have right now is in water utility metering. So AMI. So we’re building networks literally all over the United States for utilities to AMI enable their meters. So basically to read their meters over the air and stream that data to a system that allows them to make intelligent decisions, detect leaks and those kinds of things. So we have hundreds of thousands of meters under contract, and obviously a water meter cannot be powered for obvious reasons. So it’s battery powered device. These are massive infrastructure projects, so they have 20 year life. So the battery has to last for 20 years, and that’s what we’re getting in here in that case. Another example would be in gas utilities, we’ve recently announced a number of different initiatives in doing leak detection at the meter, as well as automatic shutoff, if there’s a leak detected. So we have LoRaWAN based shutoff valves, as well as leak detectors that can identify leaks. So the utility space is really an exciting space. And then another really interesting space would be food safety, where application providers are deploying a gateway in a fast food restaurant, for example. And they’re using that to monitor the temperature of both storage areas for food, as well as the temperature of food whilst it’s being prepared. And using that to also automatically produce things like FDA compliance documents and things like that. So that’s another really interesting example. It’s almost limited, I’m just trying to think of another. Then the last example would be in smart buildings. So smart buildings in smart cities is another place where we’re getting a lot of different application traction, in buildings, it’s environmental monitoring to smart water. We have one partner who instruments everything that dispenses water, either in a stadium or in a building, as well as monitoring air quality and those kinds of things. So that’s just a survey.
– [Ryan] Sure, yeah, it’s great.
– [Bruce] I can go on for hours about the different applications that we’re implementing on our platform.
– [Ryan] I think that’s kind of more of a testament to just the why LoRaWAN has become so popular and kind of been the defacto when it comes to low power wide area network technology. Obviously you have things like NB-IoT and LTE-M and other technologies that are used, but for as long as I’ve been in the space, LoRa has been a leading connectivity technology for IoT. And it’s I think all the examples you’re giving and if you really understand the difference between those use cases and applications, you can start to see why LoRa is such a good fit for so many different applications. So I appreciate you kind of shedding light on that. One thing I did wanna ask you is from your perspective, when we’re thinking out kind of the challenges that exist in the market that may hinder adoption or things along that line, what are you seeing from your perspective on those types of challenges that the market is facing? And you could take this from any angle, this could be more specific to LoRa applications. IoT is in as a whole, whatever kind of suits you.
– [Bruce] Yeah, so the obvious challenge is network coverage for things that require nationwide coverage and good example of that would be asset tracking and logistics, where you want to track a truck from the time the container gets off the ship to three days inland. And so one of the ways we’ve addressed that is we recently announced a new product in the Senet extended network services, which is Helium was the first, the second is a relationship with a company called Eutelsat The product called ELO, which is low earth orbit satellites that it give us very low cost, LoRaWAN connectivity. And what’s interesting about this is that it leverages the existing LoRaWAN device hardware. It runs a different set of firmware that allows it to prefer a terrestrial network while it’s going across country, for example. But when it needs to communicate, and it can’t detect a terrestrial network, it’ll do an uplink via satellite at very low cost. Higher cost than terrestrial, but lower cost than high bandwidth satellite. So coverage is one of the big issues that we’ve solved through a combination of deploying our own public networks. And the anchor application is often a utility based application, connecting with Helium, and now introducing a really efficient, low cost global satellite solution.
– [Ryan] How about on the device side of things? So when we’re thinking about, and we talked about, or you mentioned this earlier, is there this, a lot of what’s happened with the growth of LoRaWAN has been enabling organizations to build a multitude of different devices out there, how can companies best evaluate the right hardware and make the correct choices for us specific deployment?
– [Bruce] Yeah, so at Senet, we’ve been in this business for over nine years. From the very beginning, we are on the board of directors of the LoRa Alliance, in fact, a founding member. So one of the things we like to think of ourselves on is that we are a trusted guide. So often companies will come to us and they’ll say, I got this business problem trying to solve LoRaWAN. What should I do from a device standpoint? So that’s one thing, we would love to help as a trusted guide. And there are probably others, the LoRa Alliance is now doing device certification. That’s also a good place to go for help. But I think that’s one of the other challenges that we’ve had as an industry, because it’s an open ecosystem and it’s an open standard. It’s kind of, anyone can build a device, but not everyone exactly follows the standard. So, one of the ways to solve that is through the LoRa Alliance certification program, the other way is we have actually implemented an interoperability program. So our network work conforms to the standard exactly. And what often happens is device manufacturers will send their device to Senet and we will do testing. And then that will go up on the Senet marketplace, which is on our website as a Senet certified device. that means that we’ve certified, that it’s in compliance with our network and the LoRaWAN standard. So it’s not an easy thing. I think what I would advise people looking at deploying applications to do is to go to Senet or which I would prefer, but obviously you can go to another source, which would be the LoRa Alliance, which would have. A good, trusted place to look at devices.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. And I wanted to pull back a little further here for a second before we wrap up and ask, we’ve talked about devices, we’ve talked about the connectivity aspect, but when we’re talking about all the different technologies that are involved in an IoT solution, there’s obviously risks in choosing the incorrect technologies for a given use case. It doesn’t meet ROI, it doesn’t work properly. You don’t see the results you’re looking for, just a number of reasons as to, or a number of risks associated with choosing the wrong technologies. From your perspective, outside of just the connectivity for a second and the hardware, how are you seeing that kind of addressed in the market? Because it does seem to be a rather difficult thing for companies getting into IoT to really grasp and understand of all the different analogies, all the different pieces of hardware and how everything plays together. Certifications definitely help, but obviously there’s many other moving pieces. So what kind of advice do you have for companies looking to get started on their IoT journey and selecting everything correctly from the hardware to the connectivity to the software side and beyond.
– [Bruce] Yeah, as you might imagine, given the breadth of our business, we deal with that every single day.
– [Ryan] Okay.
– [Bruce] And what I would say is, the first point I would look at is find yourself a trusted source for getting educated around the benefits and the strengths and the value of LoRaWAN. Our website has a whole section on that. The LoRa Alliance is a great place to go. Two, I would say, find a trusted advisor to help you think through an unbiased, trusted advisor to help you think through the different aspects of the fit between the LoRaWAN technology and what you’re trying, the business problem you’re trying to solve. You know, we’re often described in the industry as a matchmaker, so. We don’t do applications, we don’t make devices and we don’t make gateways. So that puts us in a really good position in the middle to say, here’s our recommendation, talk to these people, talk to these people.
– [Ryan] Gotcha.
– [Bruce] Find someone like that that’s an unbiased expert that can help you think through the options. And then I think do some pilots. Figure it out, and this, the beauty of LoRaWAN is you can densify whenever you need it need to, you can deploy very inexpensive devices to prove a concept, and then scale it very quickly with outdoor and indoor networks. So.
– [Ryan] Right.
– [Bruce] So do a pilot, get your return on investment model figured out.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I completely agree. I actually was speaking to a guest on a previous episode about the understanding, the value you’re looking for at a solution before you build to help that pilot stage be more successful, as opposed to just launching and then figuring out after the fact, it usually leads to some headaches, but understanding what problem you’re trying to solve, what the return looks like for this to be something you would scale and get input in from other stakeholders in the company to move this forward and things like that. But to your point, I definitely think finding that unbiased, knowledgeable resource that can help put the pieces together to help you get off the ground and get something launched is definitely the fastest way to start seeing the power of what IoT can actually do for businesses.
– [Bruce] Yup.
– [Ryan] Yeah. So last thing I wanna ask you, so for our audience out there, obviously we’ve talked about going to the Senet website. We talked about LoRa Alliance, what’s on the horizon for Senet in general, and how what’s the best way to kind of stay up to date, the best way to reach out with questions, kind of follow up from this conversation today?
– [Bruce] Yeah, so the best way is to visit our website, www.Senetco, s-e-n-e-t-c-o.com. That’s where you’ll find the latest news, the latest announcements. You can also find a rich set of documents explaining the value of LoRaWAN and those kinds of things.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well, Bruce, this has been a great conversation, thanks so much for coming on and talking about this. We actually had Donna on from LoRa Alliance couple weeks ago, and it’s just incredible to see all the things that are going on in the LoRaWAN space. And Senet has been, like I mentioned before, a very popular name in that space for quite some time. So definitely recommend our audience, check out everything that’s going on over there and stay as up to date as possible. And if they have questions reach out. So thanks again for your time.
– [Bruce] Yeah, no problem.
– [Ryan] All right, everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notification so you get the latest episodes as soon as it become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.