Posted by Dave McHoul
This blog is part five of a six part series dedicated to locating Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) IoT devices. Previous posts discussed locating Ingenu, LoRa, LTE-M1 and NB-IoT devices. This post looks at the practical challenges associated with locating devices that communicate via the Sigfox LPWAN protocol.
In the Internet of Things, millions of connected "things" record and communicate important data via the internet to central platforms or other “things”. With predictions of more than 20 billion connected devices by 2020 (Gartner), scale and cost are very important. LPWAN addresses these challenges by providing efficient, long range communications capabilities which enable devices to transmit small amounts of data (per device) at a lower cost.
Accurately and efficiently locating mobile "things" is a key data element in an integrated IoT strategy. With its power, bandwidth and cost constraints, LPWAN presents unique location challenges.
Sigfox is a proprietary IoT carriage technology created and distributed by the French company with the same name. Sigfox boasts the lightest device impact and smallest payload in the LPWAN family and its communication nodes are very small and low cost, able to be deployed inconspicuously in non-traditional locations such as on billboards.
However, Sigfox networks are currently available primarily in Europe, with some sparse deployments in a few major U.S. markets along with some smaller international deployments. The protocol also places strict limitations on the amount and frequency of data transmissions which limits its usability for certain use-cases.
Sigfox provides a native location capability, aptly named Sigfox Geolocation, defined as a “low-energy location service for all devices equipped with the simplest Sigfox module.” However, Sigfox’s sparse infrastructure, super low power and data rates correlate inversely with location accuracy, so Sigfox recommends combining the system with Wi-Fi or GPS if accuracy better than 500m is required.
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