Introduction

This guide explains the Sigfox features and functions.

Libelium has added a Sigfox wireless module to its portfolio of Waspmote OEM and Plug & Sense! sensor devices.

The Libelium Sigfox module has been certified as “Sigfox Ready Class 0”, the designation reserved for maximum range devices on Sigfox Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks. This means we can work with our favorite development platform as “Sigfox Ready” when using it in our projects.

Figure: Sigfox module

So now we can use our preferred platform to work on the development of Smart Cities and Internet of Things (IoT) projects that require low-energy, long-range wireless data transmission on the Sigfox global network.

Currently Sigfox operates in most European countries (France, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Malta, etc), the Americas (United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia), Africa (South Africa, Tunisia) and Asia-Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Iran, Oman). Check the current coverage at Sigfox website

The Sigfox network is slated for rollout across 60 countries over the next five years, aimed at providing connectivity for low bandwidth IoT applications. Pilot projects are underway in key locations too.

Figure: Sigfox network

Key features

Why it matters

Waspmote Plug & Sense! and Waspmote OEM are certified “Sigfox Ready Class 0.”

This level of certification means that all Libelium sensor nodes and OEM products offer the maximum coverage range possible on Sigfox Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks—up to dozens of kilometers, even in crowded wireless environments. Many Smart Cities and Industrial IoT applications require low bandwidth data transmission over distances, often in areas of high electromagnetic interference.

Embedded radio module in Waspmote sensor nodes send information directly to the Sigfox gateway.

Fast response, and simple, immediate network setup. The network works in a similar way to mobile operator networks – no SIM card is needed.

Two data storage and retrieval options available directly on the network:

1-Trigger actions defined on sensors;

2- Complete API and standard REST calls via HTTP

Because data is stored directly on Sigfox servers, infrastructure costs are reduced for IoT and Smart Cities deployments. Sensor devices can automatically redirect data to a private database or Cloud; Information can be retrieved using standard Web calls and secure API keys.

Secure IP connection assured between devices, Sigfox gateways, and Cloud. Accounts activated with strong, unique API keys.

Secure authentication maintains data integrity, and privacy of the information sent by the sensor nodes and stored on servers, gateways and the Cloud.

As well as the Sigfox mode, the nodes may use two more configurations:

  • P2P Mode - Direct Communication between nodes (LAN Interface)

  • Hybrid Mode - Sigfox / P2P (P2P + GW to Sigfox Network)

In the P2P Mode, nodes may connect directly among them and send messages directly at no cost (as they are not using the Sigfox Network but just direct radio communication). This is useful as we can create secondary networks at any time as we don't need to change the firmware but just use specific AT Commands in the current library. This mode works without a Sigfox License so in case you don't want to purchase any license (or renew the license after the initial period) you will be able to keep on using the modules this way. For more info go to the P2P chapter.

Figure: Sigfox network

In the Hybrid Mode we use a combination of the Sigfox and P2P modes allowing to send just certain messages using the Sigfox Network. In this case we use one node as GW of the network (P2P + Sigfox mode) and the rest of the nodes in P2P mode. This mode may work using just one Sigfox License. For more info go to the Hybrid mode chapter.

Figure: Hybrid network

FAQ:

Do the Libelium products include a Sigfox license? No. Sigfox license is NOT included in any of the Libelium items. User must contact Sigfox in order to acquire a license to connect the devices to the Sigfox Network.

Can I buy the Sigfox Ready modules and kits without a Sigfox license? Yes. You can buy just the hardware kits and acquire a Sigfox license later or use them just in P2P mode without a license.

How many licenses do I need to send to the Sigfox Network? You need at least one license in order to create a Hybrid Network.

How do I know if I have coverage in my city?

You can check the coverage map here:

http://www.sigfox.com/en/coverage

We do also recommend to contact the Sigfox Network Operator in each country to ensure availability. Complete list of SNO's is included in the link above.

Important:

  • All documents and any examples they contain are provided as-is and are subject to change without notice. Except to the extent prohibited by law, Libelium makes no express or implied representation or warranty of any kind with regard to the documents, and specifically disclaims the implied warranties and conditions of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

  • The information on Libelium's websites has been included in good faith for general informational purposes only. It should not be relied upon for any specific purpose and no representation or warranty is given as to its accuracy or completeness.

Radio technology

Sigfox is a private company that aims to build a worldwide network especially designed for IoT devices. The network is cellular, with thousands of base stations deployed in each country. Sigfox technology offers very long ranges for low-power, battery-constrained nodes. Sigfox is great for very simple and autonomous devices which need to send small amounts of data to this ubiquitous network, taking advantage on the Sigfox infrastructure.

So Sigfox is similar to cellular (GSM-GPRS-3G-4G) but is more energy-efficient, and the annual fees are lower.

Sigfox uses a UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) based radio technology to connect devices to its global network. The use of UNB is key to providing a scalable, high-capacity network, with very low energy consumption, while maintaining a simple and easy to rollout star-based cell infrastructure.

The network operates in the globally available ISM bands (license-free frequency bands) and co-exists in these frequencies with other radio technologies, but without any risk of collisions or capacity problems. Sigfox uses the most popular European ISM band on 868 MHz (as defined by ETSI and CEPT) and local Narrow Band ISM network and the long-distance Ultra Narrow Band in 900 MHz (American band).

Libelium offers 2 radios, one for the European band (868 MHz) and other one for the US band (900 MHz). See more details on the “Region standards” section.

Sigfox collaborated with ETSI on the standardization of low throughput networks in Europe. They determined up to 140 messages per object per day. The payload size for each message is 12 bytes. Similar restrictions should be published for USA operation. Sigfox retains the right of cutting off the service and/or applying extra fee if maximum number of packets per day are overpassed.

Coverage

Sigfox is being rolled out worldwide. It is the responsibility of the system integrator to consult the catalog of SNOs (Sigfox Network Operators) for checking coverage in the deployment area.

To ensure that your devices are adequately covered, you will need to take the following parameters into account:

  • Geographical coverage. Please refer to the SNO catalog.

  • Physical surroundings. As with all radio communications, physical objects (walls, metallic surfaces, etc) may cause the signal to deteriorate.

Although Sigfox uses a more robust technology, the physical laws of radio transmission remain valid, as with any other cellular-based communication technology.

Sigfox back-end and API

The Sigfox back-end provides a web application interface for device management and configuration of data integration, as well as standards based web APIs to automate the device management and implement the data integration. The APIs are based on HTTPS REST requests, as GET or POST and the payload format is JSON.

However, it is not possible to visualize any kind of graphs. Thus, the user should manage the Sigfox back-end to automatically send notifications or data on Sigfox packets arrival to external devices, clouds or servers.

For further information, refer to the “Sigfox Back-End” chapter.

Figure: Sigfox network