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SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom come together in 1NCE investment

Germany’s 1NCE, an IoT connectivity specialist, has raised US$50 million in new financing to help fund its international expansion and drive growth.

That’s not a huge sum of money, in the context of the global telecoms industry at least, but the announcement is significant due to the identities of the investors.

One is Deutsche Telekom, which comes as no surprise, since it has been with 1NCE as a seed investor since its inception in 2017 and uses the company’s technology for its own IoT offerings. The second named investor – and there are apparently other unnamed parties too – is Japan’s SoftBank, which again will not raise any eyebrows, given the company’s penchant for behaving more like an investment fund than a telco a lot of the time.

The interesting element here is that this investment is an early manifestation of the strategic partnership Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank talked up when they brokered their share swap deal earlier this month. The headline element of that deal is that Deutsche Telekom will acquire shares in T-Mobile US from SoftBank, giving it much-desired greater control of the US mobile operation, while SoftBank picks up newly-issued Deutsche Telekom shares in return.

But aside from the financial aspect of the plan, the companies were very keen to discuss what it meant for them on the level of global cooperation.

“The long-term strategic partnership will create incredible opportunities for our portfolio companies to turbocharge their growth with access to approximately 300 million customers across Japan, Europe and the US in total,” said

Softbank’s group COO, chief executive of Softbank International, and former Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure described the deal as a “long-term strategic partnership” that would drive growth for both parties, but at the time it wasn’t wholly clear exactly what this would entail.

“The investment by SoftBank expands on the recent strategic partnership formalized between SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom and provides a clear opportunity to co-invest in global connectivity platforms focused on enterprise customers,” 1NCE said in a statement.

1NCE says it manages 10 million connections for more than 7,000 business customers worldwide. It is an IoT network carrier, providing fixed price connectivity in 100-plus countries on 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, NB-IoT and LTE-M networks, as well as offering a cloud platform for IoT services.

“1NCE is a leader in connecting millions of low bandwidth sensors around the world,” added Claure. “Using their technology offers incredible opportunities for our portfolio companies. With our investment in 1NCE, we look forward to accelerating the breakthrough of connectivity on the Internet of Things.”

And we look forward to seeing what else Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank have up their sleeves when it comes to that strategic partnership.

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