This guide explains the Sigfox features and functions.
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
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
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:
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.
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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).
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.
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