Sigfox hits magic sub-dollar mark for trackers in chase for one billion connections
Improbable as it seems, the chase might just be on. Having told Enterprise IoT Insights in the summer it has set a bonkers 2023 target of one billion IoT connections, Sigfox has since signed a number of major six-figure deals, tweaked its business model, and revealed a way to achieve coverage everywhere.
Now, it has emerged, from the stage at its Sigfox Connect Summit in Singapore and a number of blog posts online, that the French IoT firm has made good on its promise to deliver a sub-$1 IoT tracker, as prototypes at least.
Writing online, Nicolas Lesconnec, head of technology adoption at Sigfox, says the company has tested an IoT prototype that works in four countries, with a bill of materials of no more than $1. “Can you build an IoT tracker for $1? Tl;dr: Yes,” he states, with some satisfaction (‘too long; didn’t read’).
His post is attended by a map of the journey a tracking prototypes had made in the days prior to the Singapore event, with multiple international data check-ins, including in France, the UK, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates.
Another post, by a Sigfox developer (under the name Disk91), linked in Lesconnec’s blog, says Sigfox will soon accept “really low cost” open-sourced micro-controllers units (MCUs). “One of them is the cmostek CMT2189C MCU,” he writes.
“It has a cost around $0.25 and has it own integrated radio compatible to Sigfox. This device has initially been made to support garage door remote(s) and has limitations. However, you can imagine many applications.”
A $0.25 bill of materials makes a $1 IoT sensor at retail, he reasons. A $0.25 bill of materials makes a $1 IoT sensor at retail, he reasons. Sigfox has discussed sub-$1 trackers for two years, at least, creating tangible excitement among Sigfox providers.
At a previous Connect summit, the company’s co-founder, Christophe Fourtet, opened a letter on stage, which trigged an IoT sensor on the Sigfox network. The exercise was a statement of intent. The latest Sigfox MCU prototype brings this vision closer to reality.
The company said in Singapore yesterday it is on track to pass 15 million connected devices by the end of 2019, growth of more than 300 per cent in the year. It also announced a deal with satellite provider Eutelsat to launch a constellation of nanosatellites in 2020 to deliver global connectivity.
Most of its connections are with Securitas Direct, and take the form of fall-back connectivity (called ‘0G’ by Sigfox) for the Swedish security firm’s 2G and LTE connected alarm systems.
But it has major deals with French automotive manufacturer Groupe PSA and German courier company DHL as well, and has just announced further supply contracts with solution provider Amadeus, which plays in the transport and tourism sector, and with Japan-based energy company Nippon Gas (NICIGAS). The latter deal covers 850,000 gas meters at its outset.
Suddenly, its unlikely talk about a billion connections by 2023 seem less fanciful, if hardly more likely.
For a pound-by-pound account of an editorialised knockout contest between the perceived LPWA champs – Sigfox, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT and LTE-M – check out the Enterprise IoT Report: IoT Connectivity: Who is winning what? The winners and losers in the great LPWA race