SqwidNet down, but not out

It’s do-or-die for Internet of Things provider SqwidNet, which started retrenching staff this week as part of an effort to keep its network online.

SqwidNet launched in South Africa during November 2016 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of DFA, deploying an ultra-narrowband Internet of Things (IoT) radio network based on Sigfox technology.

DFA is owned by Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), which is majority-owned by Remgro. CIVH also owns fibre-to-the-home network operator Vumatel.

CIVH Group CEO Raymond Ndlovu told MyBroadband that the retrenchments at SqwidNet were needed because the company saw low revenue growth over the past few years.

This was because of slower than anticipated uptake of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in South Africa, compounded by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, subsequent lockdowns, and low economic growth in general.

“The increasing difference between operating costs and revenues could no longer be absorbed indefinitely,” Ndlovu stated.

To reduce its operating costs as much as practically possible, SqwidNet is being restructured, starting with immediate cuts in staff.

“SqwidNet’s network remains fully operational and connected devices will continue to function, unaffected,” Ndlovu assured.

Retrenched staff will be absorbed into other companies in the group where possible.

“Critical staff will be retained to ensure continued network operability,” said Ndlovu.

For the SqwidNet network to remain online, it needs a sustainable operating model where its ownership, risks, and benefits are shared more equitably amongst the various stakeholders in the Sigfox IoT ecosystem, Ndlovu stated.

“This will afford all the participants the requisite time to develop and grow their products and solutions accordingly,” he said.

“The SqwidNet board is focused on facilitating a collaborative engagement, with key customers particularly, to achieve that end.”

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SqwidNet down, but not out