“How can a 2.4 GHz radio signal from one tower cover 300 square miles when my 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi access point can hardly cover my house?”
This is a question I often get asked when I first tell people about the capabilities of the Ingenu Machine Network.
I wondered the same thing when I first started following all the low-power wide area (LPWA) network industry. Sigfox, LoRa and Weightless-N were all using 868/915 MHz frequencies to cover long distances at low power. I thought Ingenu was exaggerating their claims.
That coupled with the fact that the industry analysts I’d been following for the previous three years had said that the company was a niche player. They didn’t appear to be interested in expanding beyond the utility and oil & gas industries.
Boy, were they wrong. Things changed dramatically when John Horn came to Ingenu. He is a 14-year veteran of the machine-to-machine (M2M) industry and was appointed CEO in mid-2015. With the blessing of the board, he immediately changed the company name from On-Ramp Wireless to Ingenu and committed Ingenu to deploying its Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA®) technology on the company’s public Machine Network™ in 30 metropolitan areas in the US by the end of 2016.
When I read that, while preparing to do a presentation to update the Dallas IEEE chapter, I did a lot more digging to understand why Ingenu was so confident and willing to commit to such an aggressive goal.
As I researched the technology behind Ingenu’s RPMA protocol, I began to understand the power of the technology and why the company would ultimately be successful.
The first thing I learned was that two engineers from Qualcomm had started On-Ramp Wireless back in 2008. I knew the technology that Qualcomm had created was very powerful. Their radio protocols were used for clandestine communications during the Cold War. Those techniques evolved and became the basis for the cellular industry’s CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) standard. Powerful stuff.
Then I also discovered:
- Ingenu had installed 38 private RPMA networks worldwide since 2008
- Over the eight years of its existence, the company had invested over 300 person-years in development, enhancements and real-world field testing to create an extremely sophisticated radio protocol dedicated for machine-only communications
- The radio signal is a highly processed signal that uses such techniques as:
- Spread spectrum
- Extreme “processing gain”
- Tight control of remote node transmit power
- Antenna diversity
- Custom ASIC to control the node’s complex calculations and functions
- The list goes on…
The more I read about Ingenu and their intensely scientific and highly engineered approach the more impressed I was.
As a final step in my research, I decided to reach out to the two engineers that left Qualcomm to start On-Ramp/Ingenu. Dr. Ted Myers, the CTO of Ingenu connected with me and agreed to talk briefly on the phone. We expected the call would last maybe 10 or 15 minutes but after an hour we were still talking “geek” about the protocol and how Ingenu planned to build out the RPMA nationwide… then worldwide.
After that call, I was convinced Ingenu’s RPMA protocol was heads and shoulders above the rest of the LPWA players. I then set my sights on working for Ingenu, and invited their business development team to come to Dallas-Ft. Worth to present their story and spread the word. I arranged a 90-person meet-up at UT Dallas and took them around to several prospects in the area to explore ideas of how to build an eco-system around the Ingenu Machine Network.
The rest is history. I’m now working with Ingenu to promote the launch of the Dallas-Ft. Worth network then Austin, Houston and San Antonio as they go live. What a ride.