Sigfox explained

Sigfox explained

Sigfox is a propriatary low power, long-range wireless communication technology that was developed to cater to various IoT and M2M networks. SigFox was launched to enable communication while consuming an extremely low amount of power. It is also referred to as 0G network and was designed for the transmission of short status messages of sensor and position data. It stands for a bidirectional end-to-end connection, comparable to a transparent transport channel, which starts with the certified SigFox modem and ends with the web-based application. The configuration data and the terminal device and sensor messages are transmitted to the IT system via this transport channel. On the cloud side, a web API takes care of terminal device management as well as configuration and data integration. The programming interface (API) is based on HTTPS and the JSON format, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). There is one global operator and no roaming is therefore needed.

Sigfox history

Sigfox was established by two Frenchmen in 2009, and is marketed as the very first communication technology to offer worldwide wireless connectivity for the IoT and M2M. Sigfox’s infrastructure used to establish a connection is entirely independent of current cellular networks. While in most countries they cooperate with existing network providers, they operate independently in the US, Spain, France, and Germany.  Sigfox intends to create a streamlined network structure.

Sigfox characteristics

Sigfox base stations, unlike mobile phone base stations, can manage up to one million objects, using one thousandth of the energy of standard mobile phone systems. Sigfox devices can, according to their own statement, operate for up to 20 years on just two AA batteries because they only ”become active when they send a message and then return to idle immediately”. Devices in the Sigfox network use low data rates for this purpose. They can send a maximum of twelve bytes per message and at the same time no more than 140 messages per device and day. This means enough capacity to transmit simple messages. For example, twelve bytes can be used to represent a number between 1 and 7.9-1028 (79 quadrillion), which in turn can be used to transmit control codes for applications such as tracking or geo-locating.

Sigfox use cases

Sigfox technology was created to server low cost M2M and IoT applications that require long connection range capabilities. There are various industries deploying M2M and IoT projects that need this type of LPWAN. Some of these areas include:

  • Security
  • Energy and utility-related communications
  • Healthcare sector
  • Transportation, smart cars, and fleet management
  • Remote monitoring and asset tracking
  • Retail
  • Consumer goods

Future of Sigfox

Sigfox in particular is designed to network very simple devices. Often, therefore, you will find that Sigfox requires very little energy, even if they are based on the 5G network. However: for some IoT use cases, the data volumes offered may be too small, the transmission speed too low, and the latency too high.

Sigfox has been on the market for several years and is therefore field-tested. Nevertheless, the SigFox infrastructure still has gaps.

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