What is SIGFOX?

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Raghav Kapur - everything RF

Oct 5, 2017

Sigfox is a french company, that came in to existence in 2010, to provide a global, simple, low-cost and low-power connectivity solution for the Internet of Things and M2M communications.

Sigfox sells/licences its network technology to mobile operators across the globe to use for IoT Applications. At the same time it also owns and operates a network that uses their technology in a number of countries like the US.

So it is quite unique as SigFox is a standard and a company. The company runs networks based on the SigFox standard/technology in a few countries and sells/licences this technology to mobile operators in other countries to operate.

The SigFox technology requires the use of antennas set up on towers in an area and receives data from devices (parking sensors, temperature sensors, electrical meters etc.) around it. These transmissions use unlicensed ISM Band frequencies i.e. 915 MHz (US) or 868 MHz (Europe). Other countries too, have similar unlicensed ISM Band frequency bands.

SigFox Frequency Bands

RegionFrequency BandPower Level
Europe, Iran, Oman, South Africa868 MHz14 dBm
USA, Mexico, Brazil902 MHz22 dBm
Japan923 MHz14 dBm
Argentina, Colombia, Australia, New Zeland, Hong-Kong, Singapore, Taiwan920 MHz22 dBm

SigFox is a 2-way data transport service/technology that has been developed for sending small messages a few times a day while keeping costs and power consumption as low as possible. The technology can send up to 140 messages a day - Each uplink message is 12 bytes and each downlink message is 8 bytes.

It uses Ultra narrow band standard radio transmission methods like phase-shift keying (DBPSK) in the uplink and frequency-shift keying (GFSK) in the downlink. The data is transmissions are slow and are transmitted at about 300 baud. A combination of the data rate, modulation and the baud rate result in long range communications.