back to article Bad news, mobile operators: Unlicensed IoT tech rocketing ahead of NB-IoT and LTE-M – report

Internet of Things connectivity tech firm Sigfox is the market daddy, having left competing mobile operator-backed techs for dust – so sayeth ABI Research. In a briefing distributed to world+dog this morning, the consultancy said: "In 2017, SIGFOX had the largest share of public LPWA [Low Powered Wide Area] connections …

  1. TonyJ Silver badge

    "...whereas private networks using standards such as Sigfox and its LoRaWAN competitor use unlicensed spectrum, relying on the low probability of interference to maintain quality of service..."

    Surely that's a flawed model, and the more that these services are used, the greater the likelihood that there will be interference and reduction in quality?

    Of course, it's perfectly possible I am missing something there.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      They also seem to disregard the possibility of deliberate interference.

    2. Rattus

      co-habiting on free to use spectrum suffers from exactly the same problem of contention for bandwidth as the paid telco offerings; with only 1 difference - the paid telcos are, well paid...

    3. Giovani Tapini

      Your IOT device

      may not need to be able to reliably stream in real time using LoRaWAN but that is good enough for meters, weather stations etc. Getting data most of the time is probably good enough, some may be able to reliably cache until conditions improve (this is obviously no good if they are effectively jammed by other signals though) .

      If you need high reliability you would go for a more expensive option.

      The current trend (by the Telcos) is towards expensive connectivity to devices that only send a few Kb an hour which is rather excessive.

      This is more about having the "right tool for the job" and telling the expensive providers that their way has no good reason to be the only way of connecting the internet of tat.

      1. Barleyman

        Re: Your IOT device

        Buzz is all fine and good, too bad you cannot run wind turbines on it.

        A quick glance at LoRaWan reveals it's hobbyist based for infra and "business" cases. Let's deploy that for a medical monitoring device for home care that needs to work anywhere in UK (within reason), shall we? How about no?

        I'm sure it's great for IoT hobbyists but for something that actually needs any kind of reliability or ability to take "out there" and expect it to work, not really.

        SigFox is a bit more reasonable but it's non-existent in Wales and whole of the northern UK except for narrow band between Glasgow to Edinburgh.

        LTE-M(1) requires software update to the basestations so there's no real reason why networks couldn't roll it out easily, except I'm sure Huawei and Ericsson want about a billion for the firmware update.

        That leaves us with LTE CAT-1 which works, is a bit cheaper than regular 4G and has a bit better reception. 2G is fine and good but if you need something that's expected to still work in 5 years time, betting on 2G networks seems a bit iffy.

    4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      It depends on your location. The noise floor of public bands in a big city can be so high that some receivers won't even work.

  2. }{amis}{

    Kidding Themselves?

    I can't see what the mobile companies thought they were on to.

    The problem with IOT is that the cost per unit + Running cost is everything, so finding a way to knock a few quid a month per unit off is a big win, as such cellular is always going to be a last resort or at best just used for aggregated backhaul.

  3. ForthIsNotDead


    Call me a sceptic, but I'd like to know who funded that report. I deal with both SigFox and LoRaWAN daily, and design IoT devices for the water industry that use both technologies. I can tell you that in terms of the "buzz" surrounding both technologies, with SigFox it's crickets, and with LoRaWAN it's deafening.

    LoRaWAN is exploding world-wide, thanks in part to the "maker movement" and the DIY community installing their own LoRaWAN gateways. I run two LoRaWAN gateways in Aberdeen and one in Durham and they work reliably, and what's more, I have no data charges whatsoever.

    The commercial guys could only dream of the take-up rate that LoRaWAN has.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm...

      I think the point is whether you are in the hype of IoT where everything has to use TCP/IP over 802.11 or 3/4/5G (and client devices need to be running an OTT OS), or you been doing 'IoT' for decades...

      Hence I take it that Sigfox are simply drawing people's attention to this simple fact: 'IoT' isn't new and that you don't have to use 3/4/5G or the 2.4Ghz/5Ghz bands.

      However, the only problem I see is that too many people caught up in the IoT hype will dismiss anything that isn't TCP/IP-based and which doesn't use a 'mainstream' (ie. well known to consumers) communicatons platform.

    2. Oneman2Many

      Re: Hmmm...

      Be interested to hear about your experiences with LoRaWAN as a couple of vendors I am speaking to have been pushing SmartMeshIP for industrial IoT devices.

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    But does it scale?

    > relying on the low probability of interference to maintain quality of service

    What (little) I know of LoRa is that it relies on people building gateway nodes for a couple of hundred ££/€€/$$ a pop and connecting them through t'internet to some grrrt big servers that then tickle the right IoT device in the right place.

    This is fine for hobbyists and people who want a boy scout's pioneer badge. But with a transmission taking many hundreds of milliseconds then as soon as it becomes mainstream the congestion for the small number of channels will seize it up.

    Of course, for the user it is free of charge, which is a difficult thing to compete with. Although for the "grown ups" indemnity, service guarantees and reliability win over £0 (since there is no money to be made).

  5. Rattus

    "private LPWA networks....accounted for 93 per cent of connections in 2017"

    Not really surprising is it?

    There are an awful lot of IoT nodes out there that only connect when they are in range of a 'gateway' node. And many more that 'mesh' together to aggregate through telco network using LTE, but just as likely to use a fixed line back haul.

    Sure smart metering will deploy huge numbers of devices, but it is only one (or 2) per premiss (and if you have 2 meters the chances are they will share the back haul)

    Anyone with half a whit will recognise that proportionately there will always be vastly more IoT devices than IoT devices utilising public mobile networks though an onboard LTE modem.

    The telcos recognise this; however a 7% slice of the pie that is as big as and growing as fast as that of the , admittedly over hyped, IoT market is still serious £$€ (delete as applicable)


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