What is IoT?

Everything you need to know…


What is IoT?

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to networks of objects that communicate with other objects and with computers through a network, enabling them to send and receive data. So it connects the physical world to the virtual world, resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. These “Things” may include any objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators. Previously, they relied heavily on Cellular, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth network, which are expensive to adopt and maintain, not to mention high in power consumption. As our requirement for these objects expands, we need new technologies that are power efficient, low cost and simple to deploy at a massive scale.

How does IoT works?

IoT works by providing connectivity to sensors and objects. This connectivity is enabled by embedding a special proprietary (Sigfox) chipset into such objects which allows it to leverage onto a specialized Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN). And so, 4 billion IoT devices have been forecasted to rely on LPWAN technologies by 2025! Learn about Charles Reed Anderson, the worldwide recognised IoT industry thought leader.

What kind of object works with IoT?

Virtually anything that could be embedded with a chip. Some examples include streetlights, thermostats, electric meters, fitness trackers, factory equipment, automobiles, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs or drones), or even cows or sheep in a field.


What applications for IoT?

IoT can have many possible applications, such as: health (home security monitoring, connected defibrillator box, care button…), buildings (facility management, door monitoring, smoke alarm…), agriculture (crop management, flood monitoring, cattle management…), environment (air monitoring, water monitoring, bush-fire monitoring…), cities (parking management, bin monitoring, manhole monitoring…), living (sensor devices, trackers, security…), utilities (smart metering, water irrigation, utilities metering…), industry (preventive maintenance, asset tracking, connected helmet…)

What's the role of UnaBiz within the IoT space?

UnaBiz is an exclusive network operator of Sigfox in Singapore and Taiwan. It functions similarly as a Telco by providing IoT specific network through its established network infrastructures. It also provides ready solutions and consultations for businesses interested in adopting IoT into their business model.


How ready is the network to supercharge IoT?

As of today, UnaBiz has managed to provide up to 98% outdoor coverage in Singapore and 94% in Taiwan, and will be looking to further strengthen our coverage in the near future through aggressive network deployment and testing.


How many devices are connected to IoT network?

Currently there are an estimated 20 billion devices connected to IoT networks globally, and it should expand rapidly to 75 billion devices by 2025.

Who are the biggest adopters of IoT?

The manufacturing industry is currently the biggest adopters of IoT. Manufacturers are using it for the purpose of optimizing process, monitoring equipment and conducting of preventive maintenance. Then we have the transport industry who is mainly using IoT for asset tracking purposes.

How does IoT impact traditional businesses?

Through the use of sensors to collect data and analytics to break it down, businesses can look forward to lower operating cost and improving productivity by acting on key data.

Is there a fixed IoT standard?

There are more than one standards within the IoT industry. The three more prominent ones are Sigfox, LoRa and NB-IoT. Sigfox has the largest market share in the world and is by far considered the true standard.

What about the IoT ecosystem in Singapore and Taiwan?

UnaBiz currently has more than 80 partners within its ecosystem in Singapore, and more than 65 in Taiwan. These partners provide value add services to the IoT industry through research and development of new solutions and devices.


What is LPWAN?

LPWAN stands for Low Power Wide Area Network. It is a low bandwidth network, its purpose is low power consumption, high efficiency and long ranges. Therefore this network is the best for IoT as it provides the benefit of connectivity through low power consumption, enabling devices to stay connected for years or decades through simple batteries.

Why go for low bandwidth network when there is high bandwidth 4G network available?

There are very different use cases for such low bandwidth network. Low bandwidth network’s main application is in sensing modules for data collection and analytics which are measured in bytes. This provide cost savings up to 90% as compared to the more expensive 4G network.

Will my devices work abroad, outside of Singapore or Taiwan?

Any device equipped with Sigfox proprietary chipset will be able to ‘roam’ freely in countries with operational Sigfox network. There are currently 65 countries on the list and it’s still going up!

How secured is the Sigfox network?

The unique thing about this network is that there is no synchronization between base station and device. Instead, the device broadcast radio signals to multiple base stations close by through random frequency. This means that hackers would not be able to gain access into Sigfox network backend. Furthermore, there is a restricted downlink and devices chooses when to communicate and at which frequency, which protects it from hackers sending targeted malicious commands.

Can we run a cyber attack by hacking a Sigfox device?

  • No. Sigfox devices do not have an IP address. They are not connected to the Internet. They cannot be used as a vector of attack of a global system. What happened with baby monitors (massive DDoS attack on Dynn servers) could not, by nature, happen through Sigfox devices.
  • Sigfox devices can send 12 bytes at a time and receive up to 32 bytes a day >> downloading a malware on Sigfox device becomes impossible.

What are security recommendations and support Sigfox and operators are bringing to enterprises willing to deploy an end to end solution?

  • We are applying the same security best practices we are recommending our customer:- Security by default (no IP devices)- Security by design: running risk evaluation of our overall system, implementing security countermeasures:
  1. DDoS protection
  2. Authentication / Integrity / Confidentiality of data transiting from a device to an application
  3. Continuous improvement: yearly penetration tests and cybersecurity audit
  • Leverage on sigfox partners: sigfox is partnering with Kudelski Security consulting, expert in security expertise and risk evaluation. Sigfox customers can benefit from this expertise.

What are risk mitigations against the vulnerabilities Sigfox customers might face?

  • Data vulnerabilities is about integrity (data sent are the data received: forged message detection), confidentiality (sensitive data cannot be intercepted)- By design, Sigfox provides AES 128 based message authentication, an anti-replay mechanism- Optionally, Sigfox provides a payload encryption mechanism from the device to the cloud. Customers can then implement data confidentiality when required by their sensitive application.
  • Physical security, Sigfox has built a network of partners and experts in security (ST Micro, WiseKey, Trusted Objects), who can provide additional tamper resistant security using secure element in the device (protect credentials).

What are the Sigfox Network specifications

Sigfox network operates on license-free sub-GHz ISM band using Ultra Narrow Band (UNB) modulation to exchange radio messages over the air. Messages are transferred at a data rate of 100 or 600 bits/s, depending on region. The combination of UNB modulation and low bit rate allows the network to achieve high network capacity and high sensitivity of its receivers, enabling long range transmission.

  • Frequency bands: 920.8Mhz Uplink, 922.3Mhz Downlink (License-free ISM band)
  • Messages: Up to 140 uplink messages per device per day up and 4 downlink messages per device per day (Downlink requires device to initiate)
  • Maximum Payload format per message: 12 bytes uplink from device, 8 bytes downlink to device (Device ID Key and time stamp are included in the Sigfox message header)
  • Data rate: 600 bits per second
  • Maximum power radiated per device: 24 dBm (ERP)
  • Battery life: Up to 15 years depending on number of connections, sensor type and size
  • Subscription fee: as low as US$1 /device/year (depending on volume of devices and number of connections per day)

*List of countries in RCZ4: Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan

Is it truly wireless with Sigfox?

The Sigfox chipset embedded into devices enables seamless wireless connection. Furthermore, the low power consumption enables devices to run on batteries for years or even decades, distinguishing it as a truly wireless device.

What is the uptime of the network and how stable is it?

Through the unique Sigfox network design, the network availability is very high at 99.8% where there is coverage. As devices broadcast radio signals, multiple base stations within proximity are able to pick up these packets. Sigfox backend would then send only an instant of it to the destination set. Since there are multiple base stations around, in the event of a single failure, there are many others around to pick up the packets. The more base stations are installed, the more stable the network will be.

As a device maker, is there a need to specifically design the product for different countries with different wavebands? (Eg. Europe standards vs Asia vs US)

No. The marvel of this network is that it runs on the same band globally. There is no need to design different models of your product for different countries. Any device working under Singapore’s Sigfox network would work similarly in other countries.

Is there any technical knowledge required to setup devices under Sigfox network?

No. There is no technical knowledge required. The end user just needs to put in the batteries. So it is a perfect ‘Out-of-the-box’ connectivity solution.

What is the price of the network?

Similar with most network operators, the higher the bandwidth required the pricier it would be. However, Sigfox network is so low cost that the price of the network would mostly be bundled into the device itself. The individual cost of network starts as low as $1- $12 per annum.

I have 1,000,000 devices; do I have to conduct maintenance for them over the years?

Thankfully no. These Sigfox connected devices are always designed to run seamlessly in the background for years or decades without the need for human interference. You can update devices wireless through the cloud network. This takes out the cost of maintenance of running so many devices.