Rakon and Thinxtra IoT Update

At a phenomenal pace Thinxtra − backed by cornerstone investor Rakon − has risen from start-up to being a key IoT enabler and network provider in the Asia Pacific region. Thinxtra is rapidly deploying Sigfox’s low cost, Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology to enable devices on home appliances, livestock, gas bottles, courier packages and many more applications to relay short messages via the internet to our pc, smart phone or tablet. Smoke alarm battery dead? Gas bottle low? The need for manual checking may soon be a thing of the past.

For the financial year ended 31 March 2017, Thinxtra CEO Loic Barancourt says establishing relationships with key partners and securing connection deals have been significant milestones for the company.

“We’ve successfully signed major Loic Barancourt CEO Thinxtra contracts for over 1.5 million connections on the Sigfox network with over 50 million potential connections in the pipeline. The partnerships we have established with businesses like Kordia and Silicon Controls and early adoption from local universities, government and institutions is rapidly transforming the business.”

Barancourt says Rakon’s investment (42% share at FY2017) has created multiple advantages.

“Having Rakon as an investor and partner is bringing low cost Sigfox solutions to the market, which will help us in the long run. Our relationship with Rakon has enabled Thinxtra to be a strong New Zealand influencer and is a strong reference for Thinxtra when talking to large customers or institutional investors. Additionally, Bryan and Brent bring solid technical, commercial and financial experience and governance to the Board.”

He says the next 12 months look set to be even bigger.

“We’re excited by the potential, we are first to market and, as we expected, Australia and New Zealand are early adopters and do not hesitate to commit at scale to leverage the IoT. Short-term plans include finalising the roll-out of the network in Australia and New Zealand and starting the roll-out in Hong Kong to cover 95%of the population. We will also be launching more products and verticals, our own IoT platform to provide complete end-to-end solutions and a new IoT incubator programme, and of course enabling more and more customers to roll-out their projects as devices become available.”

So how has Rakon been taking advantage of its association with Thinxtra?

Rakon IoT Business Development Manager Kevin McAloon says Rakon identified LPWAN technology as an important part of the emerging IoT communications ecosystem at an early stage.

“Working closely with Thinxtra has enabled us to create relationships with end customers in both Australia and New Zealand. Investing in Thinxtra is also giving us unprecedented access to the Sigfox LPWAN ecosystem and gives us an in-depth understanding of industry requirements and real problems that need to be solved. For example, Thinxtra has created a global development kit themselves and we have worked with them to resolve an issue with the frequency stability for that solution. As a result we have developed Rakon TCXOs at a unique frequency for their requirement, and delivered them ahead of any other supplier.”

Thinxtra Highlights• Raised AU$16 million and now raising an extra AU$15 million to finalise the roll-out of the Sigfox network in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) and expand to Asia.• Opened subsidiaries in New Zealand and Hong Kong and opened sales offices in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland.• Signed up major deals for over 1.5 million connections on the Sigfox network and capturing over 50 million potential connections in the pipeline.• Reaching coverage of 71% of the Australian population and 89% of the New Zealand population.• Grew from six to 34 staff and five Directors from major companies (Rakon, Engie, Macquarie Bank).• Received historic backing from the Government of South Australia to achieve a full state roll-out, to support regional and rural economic development.• Launched Smart Council programme (www.thinxtra.com/smart-council) with 10+ councils.• Launched Coverage-as-a-Service (www.thinxtra.com/ineedsigfox) to cover remote areas (for smart farming, smart mining and environmental monitoring).• Signed up 130 local ecosystem partners (platform suppliers, device makers, system integrators and consultants).• Signed up five universities in ANZ to develop IoT solutions and educate students on LPWAN technology for the IoT.• Participated in 48 events and supported two IoT hackathons where the winning teams all used Sigfox connectivity.• Demonstrated the first Sigfox–based water pulse meter in Australia at the Australian Utility Week in Sydney.• Launched a partnership with Australian tracker designer: Digital Matter for a commitment to 100,000 GPS trackers.• Launched Xkit, Thinxtra’s own Sigfox global development kit. Already there are sales from multiple Sigfox operators around the world, including Sigfox themselves. (www.thinxtra.com/xkit).• Softly launched Thinxtra’s first range of six Sigfox ready products to Sigfox operators to be shipping from July 2017.

Rakon IoT DevelopmentsIoT Module – Developing a Sigfox Connectivity Module with GNSS ReceiverRakon has developed a Sigfox connectivity module with a GNSS receiver and accelerometer to ensure that a high quality solution exists for the ANZ market. This module successfully connected and sent messages containing its precise location on the Sigfox network in both Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia in November 2016. This effort has the potential to create a new business model for Rakon beyond its traditional Frequency Control Product (FCP) market. Small Size Low Height TCXORakon is building strong relationships with the chipset companies who make the transceivers for the LPWAN market. One of these customers requested a low height TCXO for use in their solution. Rakon has been able to meet this request, further increasing its engagement in the LPWAN ecosystem. High Frequency and Small Size CrystalTypical frequencies for crystals are in the range of 20–50 MHz. One solution in the IoT space required a small crystal with a frequency >55 MHz. Rakon met this challenge and offered samples of a crystal in a 2.0 x 1.6 mm size package at the requested frequency, therefore enabling the customer to concentrate on their solution, instead of being limited by the crystal component. CMOS Output TCXO – 3.2 x 2.5 mmTraditionally, Rakon’s smaller TCXOs were only available with a clipped sinewave output type. Due to a need for CMOS output in a 3.2 x 2.5 mm size for an IoT application, Rakon has met this request and now has an ability to offer the preferred CMOS output type TCXO in smaller size footprints.In some cases the solution that end customers are seeking is not a frequency control product, or a Sigfox module. These cases give Rakon insights into real problems that need to be solved. This interaction has led to the identification of opportunities for new future business models.


The above article was published in Rakon’s 2017 Review document for FY2017.