As the technologies in the LPWAN (low power wide area network) space mature, and the size and distributed nature of deployments grow, the trend towards diversity is picking up momentum, and Sigfox, one of the largest providers of network and infrastructure as a service for IoT solutions last week announced they have partnered to roll out a hybrid chipset while also investing in bringing developers more tools.
IoT is hard, especially as science experiments and proof of concepts (PoC) morph into large-scale implementations with geographically dispersed endpoints and network operations centers (NOCs) and increasing demand for near-real-time data exchanges driven by automated and more intelligent applications.
According to Christian Olivier, President of Sigfox USA, the company is implementing a different strategy than competitive companies by offering a nationwide public LPWAN network, connectivity as a service (CaaS) offering for areas not yet covered by the nationwide network, and a vetted IoT ecosystem to meet the demands of the US market.
Sigfox has been working in partnership with GCT Semiconductor and has also joined forces with cellular operator Telefónica, which agreed to support Sigfox’s IoT network and the GCT chipset. The new hybrid cellular/Sigfox integrated chipset supports both cellular (LTE CAT-M, NB-IoT, EC-GSM) and Sigfox LPWAN connectivity.
NB-IOT (Narrowband IOT), LoRa, and Sigfox have been battling it out in the LPWAN arena, in what some observers have called a race to the top, but Olivier sees this differently. According to him, the company is seeing success in hybrid approaches, where different protocols can be combined depending on the use case, and the features and functionality required; there is no reason Sigfox and NB-IOT cannot work together in a more mature ecosystem.