Meet Sigfox, the French Startup Who Wants to Revolutionize the Internet of Things

Sigfox is planning to deploy its low-power wireless network for IoT objects in the largest cities of the US.

Photo: Sigfox/Facebook

Photo: Sigfox/Facebook

Sigfox, a France-headquartered company building wireless network, is going to set up a new Internet of Things platform in the United States. The company plans to cover the ten biggest cities with the network in the upcoming years.

Sigfox specializes on building low cost, alternative cellular networks for connected objects. With more than 80 employees, the company’s offices are located in Madrid, San Francisco and Paris.

According to Thomas Nicholls, Executive Vice President of communications at Sigfox, the new platform is much cheaper than cellular networks, which require more financial resources to maintain and deploy.

It can cost up to 10$ to embed a cellular module in a device and maintaining data connection implies subscription fees. Besides, the constant communication with the network results in high power consumption by cellular radios.

In comparison, embedding a Sigfox radio in a device costs just around 2$. The company’s customers in Europe spend about 8$ to keep their devices connected. However, with the expansion of companies, connecting IoT devices can cost 1$ per year.

Sigfox utilizes the Industrial Scientific and Medical band that allows transmitting at great distances and at low power. The network has very low bandwidth and can transmit short messages that can be up to 12 bytes of payload data.

Sigfox’s network is unsuitable for gadgets that require such high-bandwidth links, as a tablet or a car. Instead, it provides connection to devices that need intermittent access to the network, including water meters, parking space sensors and home alarms.

Sigfox’s network features efficient power consumption, as it uses radio only when it needs to communicate data. “The device stays asleep,” Nicholls stated. “It wakes up whenever it sends a message, and then it goes back to sleep.”

The company is now developing sensors that would be able to work up to 20 years before their batteries run out.

“The Internet of things doesn’t need its own separate Internet. What it needs is a way to bring all of the objects in the physical world around us to the Internet,” Nicholls said.

Earlier this month, Sigfox together with Fiware presented an open source connector between Sigfox devices and Fiware platform. Compatible with the OMA NGSI standard, the connector will allow developers to easily and quickly produce IoT applications.

The new connector is a step forward for an innovative low-power network technology that serves the needs of startups and device producers concentrated on the IoT.

Last month, Samsung revealed that it invested in Sigfox, although the sum of funding remained unknown. Besides, the companies will be partners on the new ARTIK platform that is developed for firms working on IoT objects.


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