Cunning Sigfox emerges as IoT network of choice

Written by on July 28, 2015 in Opinion with 2 Comments

Fox silhouette for your designAt our end of the industry, we tend to concentrate on the ‘back office’ systems and processes that, in reality, are the customer facing ones.

We have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about business models that will allow operators to add value, and therefore see a return on investment, in a range of new arenas. One such is the Internet of Things (IoT).

The jury is still very much out on how operators can provide value and we believe it will have something to do with customer relationships and billing which, let’s face it, is our default setting. How cruel, then, that even the network that will be the fabric through which the IoT world is woven may not necessarily be run by operators.

Quietly and quickly a company called Sigfox is rolling out a network precisely geared to the requirements of the IoT. The company is, as we speak, delivering its network to Luxembourg, its eighth country so far. It is now turning its attention to the ‘big one’ – the USA.

Sigfox is a French company and has rolled out its network in France, Spain, the UK and five other countries across Europe. According to Thomas Nicholls, EVP of Communications at Sigfox, on Fortune’s web site (in a post written by old friend Kevin Fitchard and ‘shared’ by IoT guru Matt Hatton) ‘Cellular networks were never designed for the Internet of Things. They were built first to connect phone calls and then to supply high-speed links to the Internet. Consequently cellular links are expensive to deploy and expensive to maintain.’

The Sigfox network, on the other hand, can offer ‘Things’ for as low as two dollars (compared to $10 in the cellular world) and maintain them for as little as a dollar a year (at scale). And still, presumably, make money. These ‘things’ or devices provide the intelligence and can be attached to anything from lamp posts to water hydrants to cellular towers themselves. From there they will happily monitor whatever it is that needs monitoring – bulb outages, water pressure, whatever. They can also be switched off when they are not needed to send data. It is possible that they could have battery lives as long as 20 years. As such they, and the Sigfox network, seem perfect for the IoT.

Operators are, of course, keenly aware of Sigfox and the potential threat, and in the tried and trusted tradition of telcos are investing in the company. Rightly so, and it may turn out that Sigfox becomes owned by a global network of operators who have essentially bought their way back into the IoT game.

If operators can grab a part of the low cost access network that they probably were not going to be able to build themselves that is good. But it still means that operators are going to have to think fast and thoroughly about where they really fit in the IoT world.

Tags: , ,

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

2 Reader Comments

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. Willie says:

    SigFox has been making great strides–perhaps not-so-secret ones–toward having a strong presence in the IoT market. ZigBee and its alliance are gaining a footing but hasn’t done anything as major as sign on entire countries. On a smaller (but still wide) scale, Symphony Link from Link Labs is a protocol with potential.

  2. Jaap Groot says:

    Operators are rolling out LPWAN networks already using LoRaWAN. For more details check or contact us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.