To provide Internet of Things (IoT) connection services, Sigfox has deployed low-power wide area networks (LPWA) all over the globe. Users may connect to the Sigfox network after launching the connecting service. Users include RF chips or modules that support the Sigfox protocol.
What is Sigfox technology?
A cheap, dependable, low-power option for tying sensors and gadgets together is Sigfox. We want to link millions of physical objects and make the Internet of Things a reality via specialized low-power wide-area networks.
The user device transmits an application-specific Sigfox protocol data packet, which the nearby Sigfox base station receives and delivers back to the Sigfox cloud server. The appropriate client-server receives the data packet from the Sigfox cloud, which it distributes. The client server then parses and processes the application data to establish the wireless connection between the client device and the server.
What is a low-power Wide area network?
In recent years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has developed a kind of network layer technology called a low-power vast area network focused on meeting long-distance and low-power communication needs. One low-power comprehensive area network technology class includes Lora, Weightless, 802.11AH, and NB-IoT.
The node has minimal power consumption, and in a typical Internet of Things scenario, two AA batteries may last for many years. Low power wide area networks also have great transmission distances, often more than 5km. The network structure is straightforward, and running and maintaining it is inexpensive. The development of low power wide area networks fills a need in current communication technology and paves the way for the extensive growth of the Internet of Things.
How does Sigfox work?
Principles of Sigfox technology
Ultra-narrow Band (UNB) technology
Sigfox employs ultra-narrowband modulation with a transmission width of 100 Hz for each message and a data speed of 100 or 600 bits per second, depending on the network setup in various locations, to send signals across a shared band of 192 kHz spectrum bandwidth.
The Sigfox base station can communicate over great distances with minimal noise or interference, thanks to UNB technology. The system’s frequency band depends on where the network will be deployed.
Local rules and regulations control the particular deployment. For instance, the frequency range utilized in Europe is 868-868.2 MHz; in the rest of the globe, it is between 902 and 928 MHz.
A fundamental technique for achieving high-quality service is random access. Asynchronous communication exists between the network and the device. The gadget transmits messages at a frequency that is selected at random, followed by the transmission of two copies at various frequencies. “Time and frequency variety” is the term used to describe this use of frequency and time.
A 12-byte message with a 100-bps transmission rate travels across the air for 2.08s. The full 192kHz spectrum is monitored by the Sigfox base station in search of UNB signals for demodulation.
Collaboration to receive
In contrast to conventional cellular networks, cooperative reception is based on the idea that no terminal device is connected to a particular base station. Any adjacent base station may receive messages the device provides, and the actual deployment often has three receiving base stations. We refer to this as spatial variety.
A short message
Sigfox developed a short message communication protocol to address the issues of low-cost long-distance coverage and low power limits of terminal devices. From 0 to 12 bytes might make up the message size. To send sensor data, including status, alarms, GPS coordinates, and even events like application data, a payload of 12 bytes is adequate.
The terminal device initiates the downlink message. The Sigfox cloud server negotiates with the client server to transmit the downlink message after receiving the message from the device with the downlink trigger identification. There will be a receiving window with a maximum length of 25s after the device delivers the first frame of the triggering downlink message for the 20S. The uplink message frequency in the first frame plus a known offset equals the downlink frequency.
What is Sigfox used for?
SigFox is a French business with its main office in Labege, France, and was founded in 2009. Sigfox develops, produces, and sells chips, modules, IoT products, and application solutions through eco chain partners. Sigfox develops and manufactures the base stations on its own, and Sigfox or its operators install them while providing the network and software as a service. The gadget utilizes the Sigfox network when a vendor purchases a narrowband internet of things service. Sigfox chips are made by big companies, including Texas Instruments, Atmel, and ST Microelectronics. From end devices to cloud servers and back-end data, Sigfox has patents covering it all.
After a highly successful launch in Europe, SigFox now offers seamless and comprehensive network coverage in 70 countries and territories, spanning 1.3 billion people and 5.8 million square kilometers. The SigFox network has 17 million linked devices and processes 56 million messages daily. The SigFox network may be used in various industries, such as retail, energy-related intelligent meters, mobile health apps, vehicle management, and remote monitoring and control.
Using Sigfox technology in various IoT application scenarios may help the industry become more intelligent and efficient, increase cost savings and efficiency, and boost overall societal labor productivity.
Here are some common application scenarios:
- Asset management — Asset positioning and inventory status reporting
- Logistics positioning and tracking — Real-time reporting of logistics location and updates
- Intelligent meter reading, including reporting on meter numbers and status
- Intelligent parking, essential implementation identification, intelligent lighting, intelligent transportation, etc.
- Smart irrigation, soil testing, livestock monitoring, management, etc.
- Public/Environment: air pollution, danger detection, smoke sensing, equipment status, senior care, etc.
- Smart home: status detection and reporting, smart home security systems, and smart appliances
A whole network solution from Sigfox is offered, including base stations and the cloud. Sigfox looks for and depends on local partners to install and run the network internationally. Sigfox offers networking hardware and technical support services. The terminal is a free-flowing environment. The Sigfox network may be accessed using any RF module or chip that supports the Sigfox protocol. As a result, the producers of terminal devices will have more options and better pricing. Sigfox customers may get an end-to-end (end-to-cloud) comprehensive solution supported by a robust global ecosystem that allows their goods to swiftly connect to the Sigfox network and bring them to market.
What are the advantages of Sigfox?
- Extremely little energy is used, which increases battery life. A typical battery-powered gadget may last up to ten years.
- Simple to use: There is no signaling, configuration flow, or request for a connection between the base station and the device. The system is operational in a matter of minutes!
- Low price: Sigfox optimizes every stage of the process to be as economical as possible, starting with the RF module used in the device and ending with the Sigfox network.
- Small message: The user device can only transmit packets that are up to 12 bytes in size.
- Complementarity: Customers may use Sigfox as a backup network for any other kind of network, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPRS, etc., due to its cheap cost and simplicity of usage.
Technical parameters of Sigfox
Ultra-narrow band (UNB) modulation is a method used by SigFox to send brief messages at a low data rate. SigFox is better suited for burst applications that need conveying tiny, irregular amounts of data because of its narrowband width and brief messages. The Sigfox upload signal has a 100Hz bandwidth, DBPSK modulation, 100bps data rate, and a -142dbm minimum reception sensitivity. It offers a maximum of 140 messages per device per day, 12 bytes (96 bits) long, and transmitted in 2.08 seconds. To increase the likelihood that communications will be received, SigFox broadcasts uplink messages three times.
What is the market trend for Sigfox?
Through collaborations and independently developed networks, Sigfox has established Sigfox networks in several European nations. The leading LPWAN application technology in the European market is now the Sigfox network. Sigfox has rapidly advanced since entering the US market in 2014. The promotion of Sigfox technology adoption in the Asia-Pacific area is Sigfox’s primary objective at this time. Calculations show that the worldwide market for Sigfox network operations increased from EUR 2.25 million in 2015 to EUR 22.95 million in 2019, with a CAGR of 78.7%. The Asia-Pacific area and the Middle East will see more Sigfox technology applications, resulting in increased demand for Sigfox network operations globally.
Sigfox initially primarily established and maintained its network through self-support. However, this strategy required a lot of time and material resources, costly costs, and lengthy processes, preventing the business from developing new technologies. Through authorization, Sigfox collaborates with the communication operators to find a solution to this issue. Construction and maintenance of the network are the responsibility of the approved communication operators, and Sigfox is eligible to receive a portion of its revenue from network operations.
The number of Sigfox base stations rises quickly during the partner building mode, and the Sigfox firm also starts to look into new markets, which causes the number of Sigfox network connections to keep growing. By 2019, there were 15.3 million Sigfox connections worldwide, with a CAGR of 147.4 percent from 2017 to 2019. By 2024, there could be more than 100 million connections to the Sigfox network, thanks to its development in the Middle East and the Asia Pacific.
What is the difference between LoRa and Sigfox?
The technical principles of SigFox and LoRa
Sigfox is a narrowband (or ultra-narrow-band) technology that employs binary phase-shift keying, a standard radio transmission technique that takes a minimal spectrum and shifts the carrier radio waves’ phase to encode data. This limits the signals that the receiver may receive to a restricted portion of the range, decreasing noise interference. To operate the network, somewhat complex base stations and inexpensive wireless terminals are needed.
Although Sigfox provides bidirectional communication, its capacity from the base station to the terminal is limited, and its cost is high. However, communication from the airport to the base station is quite good. This is because endpoint receivers are less sensitive than pricey base stations.
Sigfox has operations in more than 36 nations as of the end of 2017 (17 of which had countrywide coverage), and it intended to extend that number to 60 in 2018.
LoRa is a spread spectrum technology typically operating at 125 kHz or above with a larger band than Sigfox. Coding gain is used at this frequency to increase receiver sensitivity.
SigFox, which has more significant potential interference, utilizes less spectrum than LoRa, which uses more. Through the coding gain, the LORA signal may, nevertheless, greatly minimize the noise brought on by the expanded bandwidth.
SigFox and LoRa are around the same price. However, LoRa’s terminals and base stations are less costly since they employ the same chip as SigFox’s expensive gear. SigFox stations are far more costly than LoRa stations, even though they are often more expensive than terminals.
Application scenarios of SigFox and LoRa
The application possibilities for Sigfox and LoRa vary because of their different technological properties.
The most common distinction is that Sigfox requires the mobile service provider’s base station hardware. Sigfox cannot be utilized in distant or subterranean locations where cell coverage is insufficient, such as during underground activities like mining and tunneling, industrial and mining operations in hilly regions, and unpopulated northwest areas. There are no geographical limitations since LoRa doesn’t have to pass via a carrier’s base station, and you may create and run your network at a reasonable cost. Parking garages beneath, for instance
LoRa could be a preferable option if symmetric connectivity calls for genuine bidirectional data flow. LoRa is the ideal option if you want to command and control capabilities, such as grid monitoring.
Two-way command and control are possible with Sigfox; however, for it to function correctly, the network density must be more significant owing to the asymmetric connections. As a result, Sigfox is an excellent option for applications requiring little data and low transmission rates.
Sigfox and LoRa both target comparable markets except for these slight variations. Both technologies are attempting to fulfill FCC communications regulations, and progress is being made. It is important to remember that both technologies had difficulties accessing the US regulatory market since they were initially intended for the European band between 865 and 868 Mhz.
History of Sigfox
The technology was created by the French firm Sigfox. The development of wireless network technology for Internet of Things devices uses ultra-narrow band modulation technology. It is a critical component of the LPWAN technology system and has the qualities of low power consumption, cheap cost, and low rate of long-distance transmission. The frequency band for Sigfox in other countries or regions is between 902 and 928 MHz, while the frequency band for Sigfox in Europe is 868 MHz and the frequency band for Sigfox in the United States is 915 MHz. With a transmission width of 100Hz and a high power density per unit frequency band, Sigfox employs ultra-narrow band modulation technology to send signals in a shared frequency band with 192 kHz of spectral bandwidth. Sigfox is in charge of Sigfox’s worldwide deployment. As of December 2019, 1.1 billion individuals utilized the Sigfox network, which that date covered 5 million square kilometers across 70 nations.
The Sigfox supply chain consists of upstream chip and module manufacturers, midstream platform developers and network operators, and downstream application and terminal manufacturers.