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Foxconn partners with French start-up for push into China’s IoT market

ThingPark China to support LoRaWAN technology, an open global standard for secure, low-power wide-area network connectivity

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 July, 2016, 8:10pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 July, 2016, 9:53pm

Taiwan’s Foxconn group of companies, the largest contract electronics manufacturer in the world, and French start-up Actility are launching a new company that will focus on the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) market in China.

The new Hong Kong-based enterprise, ThingPark China, combines Actility’s own IoT’s platform for connecting devices online with the Foxconn group’s vast electronics design and manufacturing capabilities.

“China is an opportunity like no other IoT market,” Actility chief executive Michael Mulica told the South China Morning Post on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress Shanghai on Friday.

“The market is growing by 30 per cent every year, and a third of the world’s 15 billion connected things in 2020 will be in China,” said Mulica.

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IoT refers to the network of devices embedded with sensors and running dedicated software that enables them to automatically collect, store and send data to other devices.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, IoT is already extensively deployed in corporate stock and inventory systems, fleet management, environmental monitoring and many other industrial processes.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has forecast China’s IoT market to be worth 1 trillion yuan (HK$1.17 trillion) by 2020.

IoT initiatives have been identified by Beijing as part of the country’s “Internet Plus” action plan, which was introduced by Premier Li Keqiang last year. This national strategy looks to drive economic growth by integrating advanced internet technologies into traditional industries.

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Both the Foxconn group and Actility expect ThingPark China to be a step ahead of other IoT-related organisations as it supports so-called LoRaWAN technology, an open global standard for secure, low-power wide-area network connectivity. It is a specification designed to maximise both the battery life of wireless devices and IoT network capacity.

“You can begin to connect things to the internet that you couldn’t have done before. It’s a whole new era,” Mulica said.

“For example, garbage cans will be connected across the internet in the next few years. So garbage won’t be picked up on Tuesdays, it’ll be picked up when the sensor senses that the garbage is full.”

As the cost of the technology that supports IoT goes down, Foxconn group parent Hon Hai Precision Industry sees the creation of a viable IoT ecosystem.

“That supports our strategic focus on providing innovative products and solutions to realise smarter lives,” Hon Hai executive vice-president Lu Fang-ming said.

He added that IoT has the potential to transform cities, industry and transport, and also the way people live and work.

Hon Hai, more widely known under its Foxconn trade name, is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer and assembles the bulk of Apple’s iPhones. The Taiwan-listed company, which had total revenue of NT$4.48 trillion (HK$1.08 trillion) last year, is also a major equity investor in Actility.