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Sigfox in 5 minutes

Introduction to Sigfox

Sigfox basically means 2 things:

  1. Radio technology protocol
  2. Worldwide radio network for the Internet of Things (IoT) using Sigfox radio technology

Imagine the Internet as a human body - The head is the traditional internet as we know it. Email, social networks, big data, visualizations etc. But the head / internet has a very limited capability of understanding the physical world around us. It lacks the human senses. This is where IoT devices come into play.  IoT devices are the senses of the traditional internet connecting the Internet to the physical world. The touch, temperature, sight, noise etc. In order to transfer this information from the senses to the brain, you need to have neural lines in your body. Sigfox is nothing else then a neural system transferring information from the sensors/IoT devices to the Internet as we know it.

1. Radio technology

  • Very different from Bluetooth, GSM, LTE or WiFi.
  • Doesn't use any physical SIM card.
  • Allows devices to work on very small batteries with a lifespan of 10 to 20 years. The devices are low-cost and small.
  • Transfers received messages to the Internet directly, without having to use local hardware/gateways - this is done through hundreds of radio towers deployed nationwide.
  • Emits up to 200 km.
  • Secure and impossible to jam, protocol is publicly defined.
  • Supported by hundreds of manufacturers and devices.
  • Works worldwide with roaming.

2. Worldwide radio network for the Internet of Things using the Sigfox radio technology

  • Physical network with tens of thousands of radio towers worldwide.
  • A managed network with strict SLA, reliability and security monitoring.
  • Being built up and supported by 60 Sigfox operators (one in each country) and currently covering one billion people.
  • Centralized and unified security.
  • Very simple and unified access to all data from the devices.
  • Paid per device and according to the number of messages from the devices (approximately 0.1 USD to 1 USD monthly per device).

If you're selling IoT and you want to send all of this information to your clients, we have a nice PDF just for that.

Sigfox vs LoraWAN vs NB-IoT

So how does Sigfox compare to the other Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) technologies? Each of them is ideal for different applications and use cases.

  1. LoRa by Semtech for factory automation
  2. NB-IoT for PoS payment terminals
  3. Sigfox for tracking or utility measurements

We've put up a quick comparison table:

Technology Sigfox LoraWAN NB-IoT
Speed Very slow (100/600 bps) Depends on configuration (250-11000 bps) Fastest (kilobytes p.s.)
Bi-directional traffic Limited, device-triggered Better, device-triggered Yes
Worldwide coverage Transparent coverage in 60+ countries Very limited Very limited
Battery longevity Longest (10-20 years) Medium Medium
Network capacity Very high Very low Medium
Jamming resistance Very high Low Low
Can be a private network ✔️
Transceiver price Circa $1 Circa $10 Circa $100
Unified API and data access ✔️
Range in case of catastrophes Very long Medium Short
Dependant on GSM structure ✔️

Check out this webinar, we found it very useful. And we've also written a blog post on the comparison of the three technologies.

Sigfox training resources: Sigfox Support & Sigfox Build

  1. Sigfox Support - a general knowledge base about Sigfox for anybody interested in the technology.

  2. Sigfox Build - this is a learning resource intended for developers. Here you can find all necessary information if you want to build your own devices or platform.