Allen Proithis, president of Sigfox North America, a global company headquartered outside of Atlanta‘s sister city, Toulouse, France, is so confident about its impact on the United States that he equates it with the importance of the Statue of Liberty, a gift of the French people to the U.S. commemorating the ideals binding the two countries together.
During his keynote address at the French-American Chamber of Commerce‘s 12th Crystal Peach Awards in Atlanta on Oct. 19, Mr. Proithis alluded to innovation and engineering style as qualities of French industry and their U.S. counterparts of optimism and successful business models.
“The next great industrial revolution,” he said, is to be ignited by such a partnership between the U.S. market and his company through the development of the “Internet of Things.”
The Frenchmen Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet founded Sigfox in 2009 to provide global cellular connectivity for the “Internet of Things,” now commonly called the “IoT.”
Sigfox has expanded its coverage to 24 countries including France, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, and Ireland and on-going rollouts in the U.S., United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Czech Republic, Mauritius, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Sultanate of Oman, Brazil, Finland, Malta, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan and Colombia.
According to Mr. Proithis, the U.S. is to be a main focus of expansion with 10 cities, including Atlanta, targeted immediately – Sigfox already is live in San Francisco and elsewhere, and the company has announced that is expects to be in 100 U.S. cities by the end of the year.
Sigfox’s ambitions are great because its ability to connect “intelligent devices” is relatively simple and the need widespread, he said.
“Telecommunications have been great at connecting people,” he added, “but not so great at connecting things.”
The firm’s service works through what is known as “ultra narrowband,” using free parts of the radio spectrum.
While the large telecommunications companies develop the tiniest waves capable of carrying the largest data payloads, Sigfox is using big waves that can’t carry a lot of data.
Its advantages, Mr. Proithis said, include low cost connectivity, battery life of years — often in the double digits — and global connectivity, meaning no roaming.
“We are focused on IOT,” he added. “Industries that need to deploy devices in large quantities for the primary use of asset tracking, asset management, predictive maintenance and additional revenue streams.”
He also said that Sigfox is a complementary network to cellular and other traditional networks.
For the past 12 years the French chamber has recognized the most significant inbound and outbound investments to and from France and the Southeast. In 2011, an innovation award was added to recognize an innovative French company in the Atlanta area.
This year SWM (Schweitzer-Maudit Inc.), a provider of engineered specialty papers, primarily serving the tobacco industry, received the economic development award for a French company with Atlanta connections operating in France. Under the leadership of Frederick Villoutreix, chairman of the board and CEO, SWM has become a global leader in manufacturing highly-engineered fiber and resin-based materials.
Gravotech received the economic development award for the Southeast, which provides innovative solutions for engraving, marketing and artistic modeling including the consumer retail operations for luxury goods such as spirits, fragrances and gifts.
Quipment‘s CEO, Valere Horath received the FACC award for innovation. Mr. Horath co-founded Quipment in 2010 to provide medical machines for hospitals participating in clinical trials worldwide. The company today supplies 5,000 hospitals per year. Josh Cutbirth, project manager at the company, accepted the award on behalf of Mr. Horath.