French start-up company Sigfox plans to deploy and ultra-low bandwidth mobile network with around 1,000 antennas covering nearly all of France by the end of the year, Les Echos reports. Its patented technology allows the cost of connecting an object to less than EUR 1 a year. Founded in 2009, Sigfox raised EUR 2 million two years later from investment funds Elaia, Partech and Ixo. Company CEO Ludovic Le Moan said that in three years people will pay EUR 10 a year to Sigfox or a partner operator to be able to connect their whole environment, from their oven to their child’s school bag, to the dedicated mobile network. The number of connected objects around the world, currently things such as lifts and coffee machines, will reach 50 billion by 2020, according to an Ericsson forecast. Sigfox took inspiration from submarine communication systems to transmit over an ultra-narrow bandwidth of under 1 kbps. GSM operators need 15,000 antennas and base stations costing ten times more than SigFox’s system to cover all of France. Because Sigfox uses only around 100Hz on the 868MHz frequency it does not need a licence.
Unlike GSM, its network can reach as deep as the fifth level of an underground carpark. The cost of connecting an object over a GSM network is now EUR 2-3 per month, compared to Sigfox’s EUR 1 year, which Le Moan says will decrease further. The network uses a thousand times less electricity than a standard mobile network. Sigfox has won a remote meter reading contract from an unnamed French group and will run a pilot project with 12,000 of Clear Channel France’s mechanised billboards, which could be extended to other countries, said CTO Christophe Fourtet.
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