Sigfox IoT Network Spreads Across the Globe

By 31 January, 2017 No Comments

Sigfox is growing. Founded in France in 2009 by Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet, the company behind the eponymous low power wide area network (LPWAN), now counts a staff of more than 200, numerous partnerships with operators and integrators, and offices across Europe, USA, and Asia. The latest (Series E) funding round  in November 2016, which raised €150 million, will help accelerate Sigfox network deployment from the current 29 countries to 60 by next year. Investors in Sigfox include Air Liquide, Intel Capital, Salesforce Ventures, and Total.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Sigfox network or LPWANs in general, then this article on the site from last year provides a useful primer. But briefly, these wireless networks address a market that’s come to be known as Massive IoT – less complex, low bandwidth, mainly monitoring-type applications involving large numbers of sensors spread across extended geographic areas. Desired attributes of a LPWAN IoT network include long device battery life (multiple years) and low deployment cost.

Of the 10 million devices currently registered on the Sigfox network, the majority are located in Western Europe, perhaps not too surprising given the company’s French roots and headquarters (near Toulouse). However, a major push in 2016 to build out the network in the US means Sigfox connectivity is already available in more than 100 American cities, and growth plans are for the now 20 percent US population coverage to double by the end of this year. In Asia Pacific, Sigfox deployment countries include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Sigfox in Singapore

In most markets, the Sigfox network is deployed and managed by designated Operator companies. Here in Singapore, that company is Unabiz, and at a recent seminar organized by IoTSG, a highly active Internet of Things interest group, CEO Henri Bong and his Unabiz colleagues provided details on the network roll-out, its value proposition for Massive IoT, and announced an Innovation Challenge for budding application developers.

So far, Unabiz has deployed 15 percent of its planned quantity of Sigfox base stations in Singapore, In tests, these already deliver 90 percent outdoor coverage. After full deployment in the next few months, the coverage will extend to 100 percent indoor and outdoor. As a licensed, carrier-grade operator, Unabiz has to meet a service level agreement (SLA) with the Singapore regulatory authority, IMDA. Aspects of the SLA include 99.8 percent guaranteed message delivery and full message traceability.

In marketing Sigfox to prospective Singapore customers, Unabiz stresses simplicity in that users do not need to  buy or build any network infrastructure; just attach a Sigfox modem to each sensor and you’re almost ready to go. And that module costs around $2, which is several times less than the typical per-sensor cost for cellular connectivity,  an important factor given a Massive IoT application could potentially involve hundreds of thousands of devices.



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