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Signify's Acquisition of Telensa Shakes Up the Smart Streetlighting Market

Eric Woods
Jul 09, 2021

Guidehouse Insights

Signify’s acquisition of Telensa reshapes the vendor landscape for smart streetlighting and offers a potential boost to smart city innovation. UK-based Telensa is a relatively small entity, with annual revenue of around £11 million ($15 million), but the deal marks an important expansion of Signify’s streetlighting capabilities. It is arguably the most significant move in the market since Itron’s acquisition of Silver Spring Networks in 2018. Telensa was ranked as a Leader in our most recent smart streetlighting vendor Leaderboard behind Itron and Signify. Guidehouse Insights expects the smart streetlighting market to reach $8.3 billion annually by 2029 and the number of connected streetlights to have reached more than 100 million in the same year from around 17 million in 2021.

The move immediately increases Signify’s footprint in a number of countries, including the UK, Brazil, and Australia. It also gives it a presence in the important US utility market. Telensa established itself in the market on the basis of its efficient and relatively low cost ultra narrowband (NB) wireless technology, but in recent years, it has increased its focus on smart city applications. It has sold approximately 100 networks connecting over 2 million light points in more than 400 cities worldwide.

The move also marks a diversification of Signify’s approach to streetlighting connectivity. Signify has been one of the leading advocates of cellular solutions. While NB-IoT is expected to make cellular more attractive to more cities, any shift is happening slowly. Offering cities an alternative approach that is tried and tested may be a sensible step for a global player looking to expand its presence.

Accelerating the Move from Smart Streetlighting to Smart Cities

Streetlighting has long been seen as an attractive and pragmatic entry point for cities looking to expand their use of IoT solutions for city services. However, cities have generally been slow to take the next step in utilizing their streetlighting networks. The difficulty of funding multi-application, cross-sector projects given the siloed nature of city procurement has been one of the main barriers. The original idea that connected streetlighting would evolve naturally into a smart city platform was perhaps too simplistic for the complexities of local government decision-making and the diversity of city contexts. However, streetlighting remains an undervalued city resource. The opportunity now is in helping cities understand how—given their unique priorities, capabilities, and restrictions—they can take advantage of that potential to support their post-pandemic recovery strategies.

Both Signify and Telensa have been extending their smart city capabilities to offer cities more options. For example, Signify has been extending its IoT support and promoting its smart pole offering, BrightSites, to address growing interest in the use of streetlighting to support 4G and 5G deployments. Telensa has also been developing capabilities in new sensing solutions and data analytics with its Urban IQ platform. Other market players are also looking to address barriers to extending the use of lighting networks. For example, Itron is working with Key Equipment Finance to offer multiple finance mechanisms and business models to cities; new entrant Ubicquia has been targeting the growing interest in small cell deployments; and CIMCON Lighting has been expanding its NearSky city management platform.

The biggest opportunity is to give more cities the confidence to make the jump from connected lighting to smart city projects. Signify’s move offers a new challenge to the competition, but if it helps increase the appetite for smart city solutions, it will be a positive for the market as a whole.