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How Verizon Is Moving From Telephone Poles to Light Poles for Smart Devices

September 12, 2016, 7:44 PM UTC
LED light sensors in a warehouse.
Courtesy of Sensity

Verizon is moving from telephone poles to street lighting poles with its latest acquisition to bolster its Internet of things business.

The telecom giant has been looking for new growth areas around connected smart devices—including water meters, self-driving cars, and drones—as some of its traditional markets slow.

On Monday, Verizon said it was buying privately-held Sensity, a company that puts sensors in LED street lamps to perform functions such as monitoring traffic and detecting security threats. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

It’s the latest in a string of acquisitions to bolster the carrier’s IoT unit. Verizon agreed to pay $2.4 billion for truck tracking service Fleetmatics last month and startup Telogis, another fleet-tracker, earlier this summer.

Sensity, based in Sunnyvale, California, is a venture-capital backed startup trying to take advantage of the municipal transition to energy-saving LED street lights to create local networks of smart sensors. It has raised a total of $74 million, including a $36 million investment round last year, which included backing from General Electric (GE), Cisco Systems (CSCO), and mall operator Simon Property Group (SPG).

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“With Verizon, we look forward to delivering IoT connected systems on a massive scale to change how cities and communities operate around the world,” Sensity CEO Hugh Martin said in a statement.

Verizon (VZ) is looking for new areas to add to its $132 billion of revenue as its traditional wired telephone business shrinks and growth slows in wireless, too.

Along with its recent AOL and Yahoo acquisitions to build a consumer advertising business, Verizon has been looking for growth from the IoT market, where owning a massive communications network could be a major competitive advantage.