The French IoT startup is launching 902 MHz network nationwide in United States.
While a vast majority of the mobile carriers are focused on super fast networks for their smartphone subscribers, our friends at Sigfox are tapping into an entirely different trend, a slow network. While that concept may seem like a bit of an oxymoron in today’s constantly-connected world, the French startup has found a significant customer base and some pretty big partners along that way, given its advantages like low cost and low power consumption.
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 company’s Atmel based connectivity solution uses license-free frequency bands (runs in the unlicensed 902 MHz band in the U.S. and the 868 MHz band in Europe), and don’t go more than a few hundred bits per second, but cost as little as $1 per connection per year.
The result is a simple, low-power network that can be deployed at a fraction of the cost of a traditional cellular network – without any risk of collisions or capacity problems. Due to power-emission regulations in the unlicensed band, Sigfox customers can only receive 140 messages per day from their devices, however. What’s more, those messages can only contain around 100 character and customers can send only four messages per day.
As CNET reports, the company showed off a number of these partnerships during Mobile World Congress, including a device from Securitas that detects if a car has been stolen and another from Traqueur to track it afterward, a monitor from Seur that ensures the “cold chain” is intact for refrigerated shipping, a solution from Air Liquide that helps analyze the condition of the gas tanks it sells, as well as a parking space tracker that sends alarts when a spot is empty or occupied. (You can find pictures of each of the new partner solutions here.)
“The mainstream mobile industry caters to mobile phone users watching video and posting selfies, pumping as much data as possible over today’s 4G network and racing to pump even more data with tomorrow’s 5G. Sigfox, though, limits network message length to just 12 bytes,” CNET’s Stephen Shankland writes.
At the moment, the startup is in the process of rolling out its slow-speed IoT network in San Francisco with greater aspirations of covering 90% of the U.S. population within the next three years. Want to continue reading? Head over to the company’s official page here. Meanwhile, don’t forget to explore Atmel’s ATA8520 device, which recently achieved the Sigfox-ready certification, making it the first Sigfox Ready-certified system-on-chip (SoC) solution. You can learn more about that here.