Waterloo gets Canada’s first LPWAN network for IoT

The birthplace of the Blackberry phone is now home to Canada’s first low-power wide area network (LPWAN).

The Waterloo Region Record reports that the startup Eleven-X launched the network that will accelerate the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in the region. Waterloo, Ontario, is about an hour’s drive west of Toronto.

Eleven-X recently installed a rooftop base station that radiates a signal out five to 13 kilometres, depending on building density. The network will allow businesses and citizens to use inexpensive IoT sensors to generate data which will be mined for potentially transformative and lucrative insights.

Most of Eleven-X’s dozen team members worked at R&D with Blackberry, developing some of that company’s core wireless technology.

Eleven-X CEO Ryan Hickey said his startup is focused on taking the wireless lessons learned at Blackberry and applying to emerging opportunities with IoT. Not only does Eleven-X develops LPWAN network, but it also creates the technology that connects IoT sensors to the network.

“We wanted to make sure we were part of that core wireless technology development for that new and emerging technology sector,” says Hickey. “You can see that in four to five years from now it can be life changing for a lot of people and businesses and governments…It is going to be huge.”

LPWAN energy efficiency is IoT’s killer app

One of the major benefits of the LPWAN is its energy efficiency in providing long battery life to connected devices. Wireless sensors on an LPWAN can be powered for as long as five years on only two AA batteries.

“Then it becomes economically feasible to deploy sensors widely, and use that data the sensors are gathering to make business decisions, to optimize logistics and all kinds of things,” said Hickey.

“This is very early, things are evolving and developing all the time,” he said, adding that his startup is taking cost-reducing measures to cut barriers to entry for potential IoT users.

Eleven-X is giving free network access to various local universities, hospitals and startups, in order to jump-start commercial use of its technology in the region, . It is also using an unlicensed radio frequency band which eliminates the cost of licensing fees for users.

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