By @SimonCocking, great interview with Will Ferguson, VTNetworks

 What is your background?

The company was founded by myself and Mark Bannon in 2014. Myself and Mark were former classmates from Smurfit Business School and then colleagues in PwC. The companies seed round of €1.2m closed in Jan 2016 from private investors including Patrick Joy, Colm Lyon, Dara O’Mahony and Dara Kelly. We are partly state owned. RTE’s Networking arm 2rn also invested in the company.

Both myself and Mark come from entrepreneurial backgrounds and have won Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur awards in 2014 and 2015. We are firmly focused on ensuring VT and its subsidiary SunBear Ltd. are a powerful driving force behind the Internet of Things (IoT) in Ireland and Europe over the next decade.

Internet of Things will be a $19 trillion dollar industry. Mark Bannon, CEO VT Networks

Describe what the business does and how it relates to IoT?

VT operates Ireland’s first network dedicated to connecting the Internet of Things (IoT). We use Sigfox technology to provide low-cost, low-energy connectivity for sensors and simple devices. VT is the exclusive provider of Sigfox connectivity in Ireland. We have rolled out a Sigfox network across the country alongside our network partner 2RN. SIGFOX is today the only commercially available, IoT-dedicated connectivity solution that guarantees a high level of service and reliability on an international scale. Sigfox is one global homogenous network where devices can roam seamlessly from country to country.

Unlike traditional cellular connectivity, which aims to transport large amounts of information, our network is designed for devices that only need to send small amounts of information periodically, such as environmental sensors, energy meters, security systems and GPS trackers. This keeps costs low. Devices that connect to the cloud with SIGFOX technology can also have batteries that last up to 300x longer than other network options.

The business model is similar to that of traditional cellular providers, but with a few major differences. Our network is low bandwidth, low power, affordable and optimized for the simple sensors and devices that make up the majority of the Internet of Things (IoT).

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What is your role in your current organisation? What aspects of IoT are you working on?

I am the co-founder and COO of the company. Our IoT network is low bandwidth, low power, affordable and optimized for the simple sensors and devices that make up the majority of the Internet of Things (IoT). The technology touches almost every vertical.

What are your plans for 2017?

We plan to connect 1 million sensors, objects or things to our SIGFOX network in Ireland by the end of 2017. We also want to introduce a number of new innovative IoT solutions to the Irish market from the global Sigfox eco-system.

How was 2016, what worked well?

2016 for us was all about building out our network to give nationwide Sigfox coverage throughout the country. We built the core network with our partners 2rn in less than 6 months. 2rn are the infrastructure branch of RTE. 2rn’s state-owned infrastructure and expertise allows VT to provide an extremely reliable and redundant nationwide network. We also did lots of work growing the eco system here in Ireland. This involved working very close with manufacturers and solution providers to embed Sigfox connectivity into devices and sensors.

What didn’t move as quickly as you would have liked?

We work with solution providers every day who are making amazing IoT products. It’s important to remember that building a good commercial IoT market ready product takes time and patience! For the best companies this can take 8 to 12 months.

How can people find out more about what you guys are working on?

Go to the website. It’s a great resource of information and we have lots of real life case studies that explain everything about the technology and its application. We are also very active on social media. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

What are you interested in talking about in our IoT panel at DTS?

Panel Description: Low-Power Wide-Range Network is opening up a whole new world of prospect in industrial IoT, and at a significantly lower cost than the likes of mobile technology. Its full potential is something to get very excited about.

-I would like to focus on LPWAN application for the industrial IoT (with some real life examples).
-How LPWAN is actual complementary to mobile technology.
-Real IoT deployments in Ireland and abroad that are made possible by LPWAN

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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