Kyocera’s new IoT network

The low-cost “internet of things” network planned by the Kyocera group likely will help introduce and export new services and hardware developed by dozens of Japanese companies.

Kyocera Communication Systems announced the network Wednesday, with plans for a February rollout in central Tokyo and expansion to 36 cities by March 2018. The network will use the base station and cloud technology provided by French communication startup Sigfox, which operates in 24 countries including the U.S. and in Europe.

About 40 Japanese partners including KDDI, Kansai Electric Power, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Murata Manufacturing will develop dedicated services and equipment. Newly devised offerings for applications such as water-meter reading and logistics surveillance could be marketed in other countries where Sigfox’s tech specifications have taken root. Sensors and other equipment essential to internet of things services are the expertise of Japanese companies.

High costs have impeded the popularization of IoT technology. “We will eliminate the constraints by charging low prices for network use,” Kyocera Communication Systems President Yoshihito Kurose told reporters.

Sigfox specializes in lowering the charges and maximizing the array of items connected by the network, company official Roswell Wolff said, expressing hope that Japanese businesses will create new devices and services.

Project investment for fiscal 2016 including the base station is seen totaling hundreds of millions of yen (100 million yen equals $957,000). The network will use open spectrum, which requires no license. Transmission speeds will be slower than on mobile service networks but simplified equipment will keep costs down.

Comparable service on a mobile network would require annual charges of a few thousand yen per piece of equipment like sensors. The new service may cut this as low as 100 yen a year.

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