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Roll out of LPWAN technologies in the UK was previously slow and market confidence negatively affected by an earlier attempt to roll out Sigfox technologies in the UK by the previous network operator.

Digital Catapult has been working with WNDUK to support its rollout of the Sigfox network by providing accelerated access to deployment sites, funding and connections to new users of the network through the Things Connected programme.

WNDUK needed to find deployment sites for its Sigfox base stations.

WNDUK re-started efforts in 2017 to roll out a Sigfox network in the UK. Starting from scratch it needed to quickly acquire a large number of deployment sites for Sigfox base stations across the UK and overcome the lack of confidence of adopters that had lost faith in the technology due to the previous network operator’s failed attempt.

Digital Catapult’s Things Connected programme was ideally suited to support the challenges that WNDUK was facing by providing challenge led innovation support programmes across a variety of regions in the UK to boost market confidence and adoption of LPWAN technologies in the UK and access to partners for network deployment sites.

Things Connected encourages the UK rollout of LPWAN technology

Things Connected is an initiative by Digital Catapult with the aim to boost the adoption of LPWAN technologies in the UK. It encourages the rollout of free-to-use LPWAN networks across the UK for experimentation and prototyping of new IoT products and services that can benefit from the unique features of LPWAN technologies such as LoRaWAN and Sigfox.

Around these networks, Things Connected also runs nationwide innovation support programmes for startups and small businesses where they can access industry mentors, as well as commercial and academic expertise to help them bring their products to market. These innovation programmes are run in partnership with challenge owners with real business problems. The programmes are designed to help startups and ensure that when they take their new products and services to market they are 100% primed and targeting the right needs.

Things Connected provided access to sites and connections to startups and scaleups that are developing solutions using Sigfox. Following a competitive open call, WNDUK was selected as a network expansion partner and to integrate with the Things Connected network, thus adding the Sigfox technology to our portfolio. Bournemouth was the first expansion region selected so, WNDUK together with one of its channel partners Net Sensors Ltd. has run an innovation programme open to UK startups and small businesses there.

The partnerships evolved beyond the initial Bournemouth based expansion. As WNDUK’s network covers an ever-increasing area of the UK, it agreed to offer its entire UK network free of charge for experimentation for startups and small businesses on the Things Connected programme. Digital Catapult also enabled WNDUK to access deployment sites of other regional expansions in the UK carried out as part of Things Connected programme. This included over 100 deployment sites in Northern Ireland and the Northeast of England.

WNDUK’s Sigfox network now covers over 85% of the UK population

Things Connected provided WNDUK and its partners with access to £140k funding to run challenge led innovation programmes in the UK. This lead to over 50 UK startups and scaleups engaging with WNDUK’s network as part of the Things Connected programme.

Working with Digital Catapult and the Things Connected programme accelerated access to over 100 deployment sites for network base stations in Northern Ireland and North East of England, increasing overall network footprint by approximately 10%. WNDUK’s network now covers more than 85% of the UK’s population.

Participating in Things Connected programme allowed WNDUK to benefit from a boost in confidence in the UK market. It provided the opportunity for WNDUK to reconnect to UK SMEs and reinstall confidence in Sigfox technologies.