Sigfox technology

Sigfox is rolling out the first global 0G network to listen to billions of objects broadcasting data, without the need to establish and maintain network connections.

This unique approach in the world of wireless connectivity, where there is no signaling overhead, a compact and optimized protocol, and where object share not attached to the network.

Sigfox offers a software based communications solution, where all the network and computing complexity is managed in the Cloud, rather than on the devices. All that together, it drastically reduces energy consumption and costs of connected devices.

Design choices and benefits

Sigfox has designed its technology and network to meet the requirements of mass IoT applications; long device battery life-cycle, low device cost, low connectivity fee, high network capacity, and long range.

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Star network architecture

A device is not attached to a specific base station unlike cellular protocols. The broadcasted message is received by any base station in the range, which is 3 in average.

Uplink connectivity

The radio messages emitted by the connected devices are harvested by the Sigfox base stations, then transmitted to the Sigfox cloud and pushed to the end user's IT platform.

Downlink connectivity

Downlink service is device-driven to minimize energy consumption. It’s up to the device to ask the network to get a downlink message.

Small payload

An uplink message has up to 12-bytes payload and takes an average 2s over the air to reach the base stations which monitors the spectrum looking for UNB signals to demodulate. For a 12-byte data payload, a Sigfox frame will use 26 bytes in total. The payload allowance in downlink messages is 8 bytes.

Lightweight protocol

SIGFOX has tailored a lightweight protocol to handle small messages. Less data to send means less energy consumption, hence longer battery life.

Ultra Narrow Band radio modulation

Using the Ultra Narrow Band modulation, Sigfox operate in the 200 kHz of the publicly available band to exchange radio messages over the air. Each message is 100 Hz wide and transferred at 100 or 600 bits per second a data rate, depending on the region. Hence, long distances can be achieved while being very robust against the noise.

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Small messages

Sigfox has tailored a lightweight protocol to handle small messages. An uplink message has a maximum 12-bytes payload and a downlink an 8 bytes one. For a 12 bytes data payload, a SIGFOX frame will use 26 bytes in total.

The Sigfox protocol stack is royalty free

The Sigfox protocol stack is the software used by connected devices modem to generate radio frames and thus transmit messages over the Sigfox global network. The Sigfox protocol stack is provided free of charge to modem manufacturers. It is embedded in millions of chipsets, system on chips or modules. No royalties are charged.

Random access to the radio frequency resource

The transmission is unsynchronized between the device and the network. The device broadcasts each message 3 times on 3 different frequencies (frequency hopping). The base stations monitor the spectrum and look for UNB signals to demodulate.

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Ultra narrow band

Sigfox uses 200 kHz of the publicly available and unlicensed bands to exchange radio messages over the air (868 to 869 MHz and 902 to 928 MHz depending on regions). Sigfox uses Ultra Narrow Band (UNB) technology combined with DBPSK and GFSK modulation. Each message is 100 Hz wide and transferred at 100 or 600 bits per second data rate, depending on the region.

Sigfox and the radio frequency resource

Sigfox uses a very small part of the radio frequency resource. Discover how Sigfox signals look like at the base station level.

High network capacity

The small footprint of UNB enables more simultaneous signals within the operation band, in addition Sigfox protocol cuts down the radio frames size. Those two features combined with the use of cognitive radio technology enables the Sigfox network to reach a very a high capacity.

High energy efficiency

Sigfox radio protocol cuts the radio frame size down and no synchronization with the network is required. Combining a low power emission level and short emission duration (less than one minute per day) allows maximum autonomy to devices.

Very long range

Low bit rate and simple radio modulation enable a 163.3 dB budget link for long range communications.

High resilience to interferences

UNB intrinsic ruggedness coupled with spatial diversity of the base stations offer great anti-jamming capabilities. UNB is extremely robust in an environment with spread spectrum signals. UNB is the best choice to operate on the public ISM band.

High quality of service

High quality of service

A device is not attached to a specific base station. Its broadcasted messages are received by any base station in the range, which is 3 on average, and there is no need for message acknowledgement. Spatial diversity coupled with time and frequency diversity of radio frame repetitions lead to high quality of service of the Sigfox network.

Security of the Sigfox Network

Security comes with devices first. Security is also supported by radio technology. The communication between the base stations and the Sigfox Cloud, as well as the Sigfox cloud itself are secure, robust, trusted and scalable. At the chain end, IT platforms of customers are connected to the Sigfox Cloud using HTTPS encrypted interfaces.

Low frequency accuracy constraints on connected devices

A device transmits randomly anywhere within the operation band. There is no synchronization between the base station and the device.

High resistance to interferences

SIGFOX has decided to implement three types of diversity scheme in order to make SIGFOX transmissions robust: time diversity, frequency diversity, space diversity.

Downlink connectivity

The downlink process of Sigfox brings additional security robustness. When objects have their ears closed they can’t listen to anything that might be sent by a hacker. The fact that the objects choose when to communicate and at which frequency is protecting them from a hacker sending them a misplaced, unattended command.

Schema

Sigfox has gathered a team with lengthy experience in the industry that deals with all relevant aspects, from security by design to active operational measures. This addresses data protection in motion via measures built in the protocol (authentication, integrity, encryption, anti-replay, anti-jamming) data protection at rest via cryptographic storage of data and credentials in devices, base stations, and Sigfox Core Network.