MachineQ is a network service and platform that uses LPWAN technology based on LoRaWAN protocol. Companies and municipal organizations can use the service offering to build and deploy IoT solutions. Comcast debuted the technology in October of 2016, rolling out pilots in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and later Chicago. It will now make the network services and platform available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington D.C., expecting to have approximately 50 percent coverage in each of those cities by early 2018, according to Joel Shadle, senior director of corporate communications for Comcast.
Comcast isn’t the first telecom to offer a narrowband IoT platform, but is clearly an early provider in an emerging IoT market in which these networks are starting to become available beyond testing and pre-announcements, according to Mike Sapien, VP and chief analyst for Ovum.
“Comcast is one of the first MSOs to move on this front and also one of the first to provide such a large U.S. footprint,” he said via email interview.
Comcast announced late last year that it would use Semtech Corporation’s LoRA wireless radio frequency technology to deploy network trials in Philadelphia and San Francisco, focusing on utility metering, environmental monitoring and asset tracking through LoRa technology-enabled devices and network services, according to a press release. It has invested “tens of billions” to build a network that spans 20 of the nation’s top 30 markets, and includes more than 149,000 route miles of fiber optic cable and more than 500,000 miles of HFC (hybrid-fiber coaxial) plant that is in close proximity to hundreds of thousands of businesses and city locations.
The MachineQ IoT platform is likely to be very popular with regional customers and local government agencies looking to launch IoT projects, according to Sapien. Going forward, expanding coverage to meet the needs of national companies, as well as forming partnerships needed to develop applications on its platform that will take advantage of the network, will be the main hurdles Comcast faces, according to Sapien.
“Overall, the major challenge will be creating an IoT ecosystem that will provide the full IoT solution end-to-end around this new service,” he said via email. “This is not impossible but will take time to develop.”
For its part, Comcast said it is collaborating with several partners on hardware and software development for the MachineQ IoT platform, in addition to “identifying how we can grow together using Comcast distribution channels,” according to Shadle.