What is Sigfox?

Sigfox is a type of radio technology that can cover a large area using very little power. It’s part of a group of technologies called LPWA - low power, wide area. Sigfox is specifically designed to enable you to get alerts from remote monitors or sensors in a low cost and easy-to-use way.

Sigfox Guiding Principles

The guys that developed Sigfox have some principles to guide its development, they are:

Low energy consumption - this allows devices to run in the field for several years on battery power

Simple device setup - devices can be up and running in minutes without any configuration set-up

Small data packets - only small messages of 12 bytes are sent across the network

Focus on low cost - every aspect of the network and devices are designed to keep the costs at a minimum

Complementary - can run alongside other technologies, such as cellular.

How does Sigfox work?

A Sigfox-connected device broadcasts its message when it has some data to send. It sends the message 3 times. The technology used by Sigfox means each base station can communicate with devices at least 50 km away and in some cases 100 km depending on the terrain. This means that a message from a Sigfox device is typically picked up by 3 base stations . This makes Sigfox technology very reliable with a quality of service target of 99.99%. It’s a much simpler technology than cellular networks that are designed for voice calls and that’s what helps to keep the costs down.

What can I use Sigfox for in my business?

Sigfox is great for sending small amounts of data, especially when high reliability is needed. So if for instance you take temperature or moisture readings from a soil sensor then you’d probably only be transmitting about 2 bytes of data, that’s a tiny amount and if you only need to do that a couple of times a day, then your battery could last for 7 years or more in a Sigfox device. Building alarm notifications or GPS coordinates are other small pieces of data that are perfect for a Sigfox solution. In fact pretty much all applications that are tracking or monitoring, sensing or measuring something can use Sigfox.

What other benefits does Sigfox provide?

Sigfox is great for indoor or even underground coverage. Many cellular technologies that are used for our mobile phones don’t work well indoors or in tunnels. However the way that Sigfox is designed means that it can reach into the places that these networks can’t reach.

There are many other benefits too in terms of network resilience and security, here's a deeper dive into Sigfox.

Will Sigfox Work with other technologies?

Yes, Sigfox is often used in conjunction with other technologies. An example is the tracking of assets in the case of loss or theft. The asset will be monitored using a Sigfox connected sensor and a cellular network SIM which remains in sleep mode while the object stays within a pre-determined or geo-fenced location. In this mode it is using very little battery power. If the asset is moved out of its allocated area the Sigfox network will alert the customer while the cellular network begins GPS or A-GPS (using cellular network triangulation) tracking of its location. Using Sigfox services in conjunction with cellular services also maximises connectivity ‘up time’, essential for mission critical or business critical applications.
Need to know more? Take a look at The Definitive Guide to Sigfox for more in-depth information.