Sigfox, the French Internet of Things (IoT) company, reportedly plans to raise €50 million (US $63 million) to help fund its cellular network using unlicensed spectrum. In March 2014, Sigfox raised €15 million (US $20.6 million) to accelerate its network deployment in several European countries. Currently, its network is present in France, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia and the U.K., with a smaller network in place around the U.S. city of San Francisco. The company uses ultra-narrowband technology to connect devices using unlicensed spectrum.
Mobile operators have been investigating a diverse range of access technologies for M2M and IoT connectivity. Current obstacles include the lack of a single standard, requirements for energy consumption and channel spacing, security, and regulations on unlicensed bandwidth. Availability is another issue, as certain bands may only be available in certain regions. Incumbent mobile operators could leverage their extensive infrastructure and combine wide-area technology for accessing hubs and short-range technology for local access. The question is, will incumbent operators partner with companies like Sigfox—as Albertis Telecom did in Spain by deploying a dedicated 0G network (Sigfox’s term for its narrowband network)—or use their existing networks and complement them with narrowband technology?
Sigfox claims it can reach half the world in the next two to three years using its 0G network. So the debate continues—does the IoT need a new, tailor-made network with low energy consumption and simplicity of use, or can operators find a way to leverage their current networks in tandem with low-profile antennas and other narrowband equipment to address the congestion issues plaguing the industry today?
The above item appeared in a recent issue of The Tarifica Alert, a weekly resource that analyzes noteworthy developments in the telecoms industry from around the world. To access all of the latest articles and issues: http://www.tarifica.com/TarificaAlert.aspx