When the wireless business community comes together in Barcelona, Spain, over the week of Feb. 22, Rancho Bernardo-based Ingenu will be there to show its patented technology to the world.
Ingenu wants to spark interest in something that it is already introducing to the Sun Belt of the United States. Its RPMA network is a wireless network that lets machines exchange data with each other. It’s a network meant to serve an aspect of the Internet that is getting a lot of attention lately.
That’s the Internet of Things.
Random Phase Multiple Access — RPMA — is “designed for machines at the most fundamental level,” said Ingenu executive Landon Garner. It has been the foundation of 38 networks deployed over seven years.
The company counts 32 domestic and foreign technology patents in its portfolio.
RPMA is Ingenu’s exclusive technology. “We own it completely,” said Garner, the company’s chief marketing officer, adding that the company is in the middle of licensing the technology to major players in other countries.
The Internet of Things is a vision of a world where objects share information with each other. It can be in the consumer space (where a connected auto relays data to a connected house) or the commercial and industrial space (where remote oil rigs send meter data to an operations center many miles away, or where shipping containers report their geographical positions periodically).
Businesses already use wireless connections to let industrial assets send along small amounts of data, such as smart-meter readings. This is called machine-to-machine communication — M2M for short.
Much M2M uses older, second-generation technology that does not offer much of a financial return to wireless companies. It’s technology that the wireless carriers would like to retire. As a result, carriers are “sunsetting” these so-called 2G networks and devoting their finite spectrum resources to newer, more profitable uses such as 4G LTE.
Ingenu sees opportunity in that sunset and companies suddenly seeking an alternative to 2G.
The Machine Network
So Ingenu is rolling out something it calls the Machine Network, billed as the first wireless public network dedicated entirely to the Internet of Things and M2M.
The network, which uses the RPMA standard, was initially concentrated in Dallas and Phoenix and will cover 30 major metropolitan areas across the U.S. by the end of this year. Ingenu plans to cover the entire U.S. by the end of 2017.
Garner said Ingenu’s plan is to start in the south and work its way north.
The business recently announced a partnership with WellAware, a San Antonio-based data analytics company serving the oil and gas industry, to expand the network over a 55,000-square-mile portion of Texas.
Oil and gas businesses won’t send someone 200 miles to read a meter, Garner said, noting that the industry is always looking to maximize its margins.
Ingenu plans to go into the northern and western areas of Texas where there is sparse cell coverage, Garner said. Here, he added, the only alternative for remotely monitoring wells is data service via satellite — something that costs 10 to 20 times what Ingenu charges.
Big Business Mentors
Ingenu, which started life under the name On-Ramp Wireless Inc., has drawn $118.5 million of funding, according to the CrunchBase database compiled by publisher TechCrunch. Investors include Enbridge, Third Wave Ventures and Energy Technology Ventures. The latter is a joint venture of GE Ventures, NRG Energy and ConocoPhilips.
The company is going after new funding, Garner said.
John Horn is its chief executive. The business counts executives from Qualcomm Inc. and Verizon as board members.
Ingenu has its main office in Rancho Bernardo, though it will soon leave that space. The firm recently signed a lease for 27,900 square feet in Scripps Ranch.
The company’s 120 employees include a core of 100 who work in San Diego. The rest work remotely. Garner’s home base is Scottsdale, Ariz.
RPMA has one more advantage.
The technology operates in that portion of the wireless spectrum called 2.4 gigahertz. It’s an area that no one owns through a license, and is therefore free and open to all comers.
Microwave ovens, Wi-Fi radios, baby monitors and cordless phones all use that band.