Tag Archives: cellular network

Sigfox looks to become the go-to IoT platform

Writing for TechCrunchRomain Dillet notes that Sigfox is developing a low cost, alternative cellular network that will enable connected objects to interact with the French startup’s server with just a tiny battery and basic hardware. There will also be a very simple API for developers of all levels to use.


While Wi-Fi or Bluetooth are reasonable substitutes for smart home devices, a different solution is required for a company trying to gather small amounts of information on a regular basis. Subsequently, Sigfox has already built nationwide networks that can be found in not only France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, but now being rolled out across the U.K. and California.

“It sounds too good to be true, but the company’s network already works in a few countries and has many interesting potential use cases,” Dillet writes.

For instance, Sigfox’s networks in France are currently being used to connect electronic billboards, water meters and tracking devices that monitor elderly people who live alone.

As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Sigfox-ready devices can connect to the Internet without any geographically dependent connectivity costs or location-specific network configuration. The worldwide connectivity solution is managed through the Sigfox Network Operator partnership program, effectively linking local ecosystems to the global network.

“Sigfox is perfect for connected objects that need to send a bit of information while using very little power,” Cédric Giorgi, Head of Startup Relations at Sigfox, tells TechCrunch“From a more technical point of view, you just need a standard radio antenna that can send data on Sigfox’s low frequency.”

The company’s network listens to objects, captures the signal and then sends the data back to the given developer’s servers. Given the fact it utilizes a very low frequency that is currently unused and does not require an expensive license fee, the network is able to operate at a cheaper cost that its alternatives. Simply stated, the lower the frequency, the less towers required to build a thorough network.

“The connection solutions we have today weren’t built for the Internet of Things,” says Nicholls. “They were built for smartphones.”

“A few American companies like Salesforce, Twilio and Stripe have become major platforms for other companies. That’s exactly what we want to do, turn our network for connected objects into a platform,” Giorgi explained.

As Dillet reveals, several large companies are already using the company’s network, such as Securitas in Spain who plans on connecting one million objects to Sigfox. While the alarm systems are the only devices using the network in Spain at the moment, Thomas Nicholls, Head of Marketing at Sigfox, says the company should soon have other clients connecting. “The network is there so anyone can use it.”

For smaller developers, Sigfox is quite cheap as pricing varies with the number of connected objects that take advantage of the network. “If you have the right component, we want you to run on the Sigfox network in three clicks,” Giorgi concluded.

SigFox plans Silicon Valley IoT cellular network

Writing for MIT’s Technology Review, Tom Simonite confirms that SigFox plans on building a cellular network for the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT) in San Francisco later this year. 

According to SigFox, the wireless network is intended to make it cheap and practical to link anything to the Internet, including smoke detectors, dog collars, bicycle locks and water pipes.

“If you want to get to billions of connections like that, you require a completely new type of network,” Luke D’Arcy, director of SigFox’s operations in the US, told the publication.

As Simonite notes, the Silicon Valley network is slated to leverage the unlicensed 915-megahertz spectrum band typical used by cordless phones.

“Objects connected to SigFox’s network can operate at very low power but will be able to transmit at only 100 bits per second—slower by a factor of 1,000 than the networks that serve smartphones. But that could be enough for many applications,” he explains. 

”A SigFox base station can serve a radius of tens of kilometers in the countryside and five kilometers in urban areas. To connect to the network, a device will need a $1 or $2 wireless chip that’s compatible, and customers will pay about $1 in service charges per year per device.”

It should be noted that French startup SigFox recently showcased its Atmel-powered global cellular connectivity solution for the IoT at the Atmel booth during Embedded World 2014 in Nuremberg, Germany.

According to company rep Jacques Husser, SigFox-ready devices connect to the Internet without any geographically dependent connectivity costs or location-specific network configuration. The worldwide connectivity solution is managed through the Sigfox Network Operator partnership program, effectively linking local ecosystems to the global network.

That is why, says Husser, the phrase “one network, a billion dreams” has become the company’s slogan. 

Indeed, SigFox utilizes UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) radio technology to connect devices to its global network. The use of UNB is key to providing a scalable, high-capacity network, with very low energy consumption, while maintaining a simple and easy to rollout star-based cell infrastructure.

 The network operates in the globally available ISM bands (license-free frequency bands) and co-exists in these frequencies with other radio technologies – without any risk of collisions or capacity problems.

SigFox currently uses the most popular European ISM band on 868MHz (as defined by ETSI and CEPT), along with 902MHz in the USA (as defined by the FCC), depending on specific regional regulations.

SigFox secures communications in a number of ways, including anti-replay, message scrambling and sequencing. Perhaps most importantly, only the device vendors understand the actual data exchanged between the device and the IT systems. Simply put, Sigfox acts as a transport channel, pushing the data towards the customer’s IT system.

Interested in learning more about Sigfox? You can check out the official company website here.