Sigfox chooses Google Cloud as its global backbone and cloud provider

via Flickr ©  medithIT (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © medithIT (CC BY 2.0)

  • It expects its shift to the cloud will transform many of its IoT applications
  • And give it an ability to scale as its data volumes soar

The (very) narrowband Internet of Things (IoT) network scene has, up to now, felt like a slow motion slugfest. The stupendous growth promised in the heady early IoT days (about 8 to 10 years ago) has stubbornly refused to arrive. Instead there has been steady growth with essentially three contenders in the ring with three different underlying technologies and contrasting business models: Sigfox, with a proprietary global network, and oriented to mobile tracking applications; LoRa, which acts as a technology ecosystem and standards set with multiple players and often dense static applications (and is generally considered the leading player); and the telco standards, NB-IoT and LTE-M, which are business modeled more for mobile IoT and, naturally, are both tied to individual telco networks (federated via roaming for freight tracking and similar). 

Sigfox has just lined itself up with Google Cloud because, as we all know, public cloud and telecoms are playing footsie under the table and all sorts of confluence is on the cards (‘convergence’ is no longer referenced in polite company - too much history). So Sigfox has chosen Google Cloud, or perhaps the other way about, for network backbone purposes. 

And naturally this is not just a one-off dalliance between two unlikely friends. In December, rival Semtech ‘teamed up’ with AWS and the two worked on integrating the LoRaWAN protocol onto AWS’ IoT Core managed cloud service, which is designed to enable connected devices to integrate with cloud applications - clearly an important IoT and cloud capability. Semtech is really the key player with LoRa, since it owns the crucial LoRa transceiver technology which enables the low cost, ultra low-powered connectivity.

Back to Sigfox

Its collaboration with Google will include the migration of the Sigfox network infrastructure into Google Cloud. Sigfox may deal in very short messages but their volume has skyrocketed as the Sigfox network has grown. And that growth is on an upward curve. The company claims it is now the world’s largest ‘dedicated’ low-powered WAN service provider being deployed in 72 countries, and within reach of more than 1.3 billion people. Its messaging data, having grown by 145% in 2020 alone, now represents some real heavy lifting as it now processes billions of messages each month. 

By involving Google Cloud as its backbone, Sigfox will win better scaling ability, increased reliability and “best of breed compliance and security,” it claims. 

Sigfox says it expects its shift to the cloud will transform many of the applications being run by the industries with which it operates, including supply chain and logistics, automotive, postal services and utilities. And Sigfox offers its own applications for important verticals: it references its auto parts solution, which tracks components on their journeys between assembly plants and suppliers with sensor-equipped containers. Or its solutions for utility companies that digitize the data collection of gas consumption meters, retrofitted Network Controlling Units and smart features.

Shipping companies, which fit trolley rollers or containers with Sigfox smart trackers to give exact information on location, movement and condition. All of these will now be now cloud-enabled to manage exponential data growth thanks to the Google Cloud partnership.

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