Global Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) providers offer Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity as a service over widespread geographical areas. In this report, we’ll be assessing vendors who operate in the unlicensed spectrum, which is a set of frequency bands in the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) range, and do not require the vendors to apply for or purchase at auction licenses from national telecommunications regulators.

This ability to operate without a license lowers a significant entry barrier and enables startups to disrupt the wider IoT technology space with innovative approaches. Within the unlicensed LPWAN network providers space, we’ve identified four types of IoT connectivity providers:

  1. Network operators: This model resembles the one used by mobile network operators (3G/4G/5G), in which the operator deploys and manages the core infrastructure and the radio access networks (RANs). The operator is solely responsible for deploying new gateways to provide coverage in other areas. Typically, network operators offer IoT connectivity in a network-as-a-service model, for which the customer only needs to subscribe their devices to the network. In this report, we classify as network operators the following vendors: Everynet, Netmore, Sigfox, and Senet.
  2. Satellite-based connectivity: An increasing number of vendors are entering the market offering ubiquitous connectivity via satellites. Devices can communicate with satellites either directly or indirectly through lightweight and portable gateways. To connect to a satellite network, network providers can use protocols such as LoRa on Very High Frequency (VHF) to either connect directly to devices, or to transceiver gateways. The only satellite-based vendor featured in this report is Swarm Technologies. However, other vendors such as Lacuna Space and Echostar Mobile will launch commercial offerings in the near future.
  3. Open, community-based network: A central provider operates the core infrastructure, namely the network servers, while the gateways (which provide the coverage) are run by third parties, which can be either enterprises or consumers. The advantages of building IoT solutions on community-based networks are low costs (even free) and high flexibility. The Things Network is the only community-based network featured in this report.
  4. Decentralized, blockchain-based network: Central providers deploy and maintain the core infrastructure, while gateways are operated by independent third parties. Gateway operators are incentivized to run gateways by using them to mine cryptocurrencies and are rewarded based on the gateway’s health and proof of connectivity. Operating on a blockchain network creates tamper-resistant records of shared transactions, which allows enterprises to share and access IoT data without a central authority. We feature the following vendors in this category: Helium, MXC Foundation, and Nesten.

Throughout these four categories of LPWAN network providers, enterprises have many options available for their use cases. Each type of provider has advantages and disadvantages. For example, network operators follow a tried-and-tested model that can offer better carrier-grade SLAs. Satellite providers can provide connectivity in areas where other communications are not available, and decentralized networks have the highest scalability potential and can have lower subscription costs…

I count my time working with Chris among my most rewarding professional experiences. Chris is someone with a voracious appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the world around him. While these traits make him an incredible thought partner that excels at introducing new concepts and riffing off the ideas of others…it also makes him a multiplier, someone that helps others sharpen their own thinking by forcing them to be more introspective, to be more curious about what’s possible, and to think critically and objectively about the reality of a situation.

Chris is a tide that raises many boats, not just through his ability to cultivate innovation and promote positive disruption, but by the example he sets. Chris is one of the most accountable people I’ve ever known and consistently demonstrated a knack for bringing order to chaos, prioritizing diffuse – and often conflicting – objectives, and producing positive outcomes in situations where the deck seemed stacked in such a way that that doing so appeared impossible.

Rick Kenney, Myriad360

Chris is a great asset to any company. His dedication and drive for results makes him a consistent high achiever.

Henry Yu, tw telecom

Chris was the driving force behind the creation of the ISOC Colorado chapter. I appreciated his leadership and technical skills and his determination. I enjoyed working with Chris on this project and I am looking forward to doing it again.

Yannis Konstantopoulos, Lumen Technologies

Through the several tasks that we spent together in a professional environment, I have seen Chris accomplish things that many would consider impossible – both as a professional and technically – and neither has been a disappointment. Chris is a calculated risk-taker. He has an uncanny way of determining what the target market needs and has the capability of tweaking his designs and implementations accordingly. As a pragmatic leader and a realist, he can grasp ideas in a holistic manner and still pay attention to minor details. Chris has a well-deserved reputation as someone who is diligent and personable – two qualities that define him completely. As someone who is a creative thinker and possesses a can-do attitude, Chris is a pleasure to work with.

Kyle Smith, Markley

Chris is always happy to contribute to a discussion or to an issue and is more than happy to lend a hand to both assist team members with their tasks or to lend his expertise in order to benefit the requestor. He is constantly providing knowledge transfer in a peer to peer manner, engaging others to work together to move a project forward or to resolve an issue. Most importantly, Chris is an open and honest communicator about whatever the topic of the moment is, something that is refreshing in today’s world. I could always count of Chris to lend his opinion or his ideas to any subject matter, and this becomes an important contribution for any team. Chris has tremendous talent and is a very hard working, team player. I would welcome Chris to my team at any point in the future.

Paul Diamond, Markley

Chris is a talented technologist with a keen eye for marketing. This combination of skills has been a powerful asset in his role. Over the course of the 4 years that I worked with Chris, he presented at numerous events & conferences, and was a thought leadership partner. He was pivotal in honing Myriad360’s mission and developing a cohesive strategy for the company. Chris earns my highest recommendation.

Kirsten Gonzalez, Myriad360

Chris is one of the most brilliant technologists and charismatic speakers I’ve met in a long time. He’s an absolute creative, has a mind focused on solutions, and is driven by a deep belief in what he does. He’s both an inspirational leader and great colleague. I’d work with Chris again any day of the week.

Lia Kiessling, Internet Society

One thing everyone should know about Chris, he always provides nothing less then quality customer service and technical support. His professionalism and skill far exceeds all expectations because he always goes the extra mile.

David Corbett, tw telecom

It was a pleasure to work with Chris. Chris possesses very detailed technical knowledge and solid experience, but never lost sight of his strategic and business goals when using that knowledge and experience.

Graham McKinley, Overture Networks

Together we conquered many challenges, won impossible battles in the vendor industry and created a unique security practice. He has an interesting set of talents of being an engineer, innovator, and a thought leader, but never mixes any of these roles. That is what makes him successful as a leader. “Never be comfortable” is what Chris would tell me, which is what pushed me to do my first tech talk. I now have dozens behind me within some of the largest conferences known in the security vendor industry. Chris is nothing short of supernatural.

Leo Cruz, Myriad360

In a wireless organization the network your products operate on needs to be reliable, dependable and operating at top efficiency. Chris made sure that was a reality. Chris was a leader in the day to day operation of our network, on initiating improvement designs for the future and helping out the other departments to close performance gaps. There was never a problem to hard to solve, a solution he was not willing to seek out or a cutting edge idea he hadn’t already researched.

Wayne Gibson, WavMax

I have worked with Chris on several projects over the years. His leadership, cooperation, and execution skills are first class. Chris looks at the big picture, identifies necessary actions, builds a plan, and gets the project done

Richard Jimmerson, ARIN

Chris is a consummate professional. Motivated, expressive, talented in everything he attempts. His skills in making things happen for the better are top notch.

Mark Woodworth, CableLabs

Chris is a superior problem-solver with great people skills and ability to ask the really hard questions. A team player who is engaged and approachable, I expect Chris will have significant impact in the tech industry.

Deb Gerring, CableLabs

Chris is extremely knowledgeable and, more importantly, readily shares that knowledge with his peers to promote better overall understanding and improvement.

Dan Zumar, Virtela Technology Services Incorporated

Chris is one of the sharpest minds you will be lucky to come across, whether in a personal or professional setting. His ability to cut through the noise and see the relevant elements and data in any situation is remarkable. 

Chris is intensely focused, dedicated, and capable. He absorbs and synthesizes data quickly, finds the leverage points, focuses on what matters, and delivers results. Any high-performing team will get a boost from engaging with Chris.

Andy Fisher, Myriad360

Chris Grundemann was among the most energetic and competent members of our Council throughout his time as an