In Germany, we have at least three companies, who plan to roll out an LPWAN. Two of them are on LoRa the other is on SIGFOX. One of the LoRa operators is backed by a big utility company. However, right now a standard IoT system integrator will not get access to the public LoRa networks in Germany easily.
Based on that I ordered my own SIGFOX Mini BTS. Anybody with a serious business use case can get one. My customer in Ireland sourced a SIGFOX Mini BTS as well. We have had a very fast roll out of SIGFOX in Düsseldorf region and 20 cities will get an indoor coverage. In addition, I got my hands on a SIGFOX module with the following features:
SIGFOX module as a glance
- 21 dBm @ 3,6 Volt
- 0,05 nA @ OFF
- 7 nA Idle
- 64 KB Flash for my own code
- SIGFOX protocol and encryption on the SoC
- PA with up 21 dBm on SoC
- Small footprint 19 mm x 13,5 mm and the option to get the plain SoC as well
- AT Command Interface on UART
- Migration path from 2G, 3G, 4G module to SIGFOX => remove cellular from the PCB and replace with a SIGFOX module
The operating voltage of my GSM modules is 3,4 to 4,2 Volt. The SIGFOX module is from 2,5 Volt to 6 Volt. A redesign will be pretty straightforward. End customers like city council are asking for SIGFOX and LoRa even when it makes no sense because there is no LPWAN coverage.
With the new SIGFOX Mini BTS concept, everybody can generate the SIGFOX coverage they want. On LoRaWAN we talk and on SIGFOX we do.
Price for the LPWAN node
Presently no LPWAN module is cheaper than the new SIGFOX module or the SIGFOX System on a chip (SoC). Everything is on an IC (PA + transceiver + MCU + SIGFOX stack + space for my own code). There are 5 components around the SIGFOX SoC plus a matching circuit to the antenna. I plan to match directly with the PA because I do not care about the impedance. If necessary I will design a 200 Ohm antenna.
On LoRa I struggled to order product from Semtech. The LoRa IC is not a SoC. I aways require an MCU to run the stack. Inside a LoRaWAN module there is often an ARM MCU. In front of the module is another MCU (host MCU). There are a lot of parts around a LoRA IC, the power consumption in off mode is higher and the board space for a LoRa application is bigger.
Access to LPWAN network
To make a long story short, in the small village where I live there is no LPWAN coverage, but with SIGFOX I can satisfy the wishes of the city council.
Member of LPWAN association
“Device manufacturers must be a member of the LoRa Alliance to be LoRa Certified and must use one of the accredited LoRa Certification test houses to do the functional protocol testing.”
Adopter Level: $3000
To use GSM, UMTS and LTE I can do what I want. On NB-IoT (LTE-Cat-NB1) I need no membership as well. I am not aware that SIGFOX will ask for a membership fee. However $3000 is a lot of money for small companies.
Do you have news on what is going on in other countries? What is the status? Who is moving faster – LoRAWAN or SIGFOX?
And please do correct me if I am wrong. I am a human and not the Oracle of Delphi! . Thanks in advance for your feedback by comments or by email to harald.naumann (at) gsm-modem.de