Watches and TV sets connecting to the Internet as if they were computers or smartphones is no longer a novelty. However, more and more cars are getting connected and, in the very near future, so will many more devices as well: the Internet of things has only just begun to set foot in the world, yet soon any device will be connected to the Internet so you can control it from the screen of your mobile phone.
With this revolution in the making, one wonders what kind of network will actually withstand all the billions of gadgets being connected at the same time. If the washing machines and refrigerators in every household are connected, will there be enough room for them in existing mobile networks of telecom carriers?
The French startup Sigfox has been working for five years on a solution: while the telecom carriers strive to create networks with an ever growing bandwidth, Sigfox, which was present at the 4YFN gathering for entrepreneurs of the Mobile World Congress, is creating a network meant specifically for the Internet of Things. Why look for high-speed connection if all we really need is to just simultaneously connect all devices without high speed?
The connectivity system, patented by Sigfox, is based on simplicity. Its network, designed to encompass a large number of devices, is a low-cost solution employing an infrastructure of antennas completely separate from those that already exist today.
Image | Sigfox
Currently, the network has been installed in France, Spain, UK, Russia and the Netherlands, and within the next five years the startup hopes to be present in 60 countries.
This network is not only low-cost but also low-speed (just right for the Internet of Things, which requires higher capacity rather than speed) and also provides connections at a low energy cost, allowing the batteries of connected devices to last longer.
The promising future in the making helped Sigfox raise $115 million (100 million euros) in a recent venture round. The startup will invest it in laying the necessary infrastructure to continue expanding. This amount is an addition to the 30 million euros that Sigfox had already raised previously.
Behind this investment are big companies like Intel and operators such as Telefónica and Asian carriers like SK Telecom and NTT DoCoMo, which have decided to go for the alternative and independent network of Sigfox for the busy future of the Internet of things.