Sigfox 0G Technology Will Integrate with Semtech LoRa Chipsets, Signaling a More Cooperative Future for the Fragmented LPWAN Market

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By Elizabeth Stokes | 2Q 2024 | IN-7289

UnaBiz, the owner of Sigfox 0G technology, announced last winter that the 0G technology will integrate with Semtech’s SX126x LoRa chipsets. The move represents another step forward in UnaBiz’s convergence goals and represents Internet of Things (IoT) users’ growing demand for global Low-Power Wide Area (LPWA) connectivity. Sigfox 0G Technology Integrates with Semtech’s LoRa Chipsets

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Sigfox 0G Technology Integrates with Semtech's LoRa Chipsets


Internet of Things (IoT) solution provider UnaBiz announced last winter that its Sigfox 0G technology will integrate with Semtech’s SX126x LoRa chipsets. The move allows IoT solution makers using the chipsets to apply Sigfox and LoRa connectivity to a single Stock Keeping Unit (SKU). The announcement came just months after Semtech first enabled Sigfox technology on its LoRa Edge and next-generation LoRa Connect platforms. A partnership between the two technologies was once considered unlikely, but UnaBiz’s convergence vision and Sigfox’s previous demise have encouraged a new age of cooperation among the Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) rivals.

From Competition to Convergence for Fierce LPWAN Competitors


Before UnaBiz acquired the company in 2022, Sigfox was an influential French startup dedicated to deploying a globally available LPWAN. Its business model of operator partnerships and proprietary tech seemed revolutionary for a time, but the company soon experienced intense financial trouble as more LPWANs like LoRaWAN found success in the market.

UnaBiz's acquisition of Sigfox fell neatly into its convergence strategy. The Singapore-based IoT solution provider has openly advocated for interoperability between LPWANs like Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), LTE-M, LoRaWAN, and Sigfox, and has arranged strategic partnerships with several different cellular and non-cellular LPWAN solution providers to realize this vision. UnaBiz joined the LoRa Alliance in July 2023, and Semtech announced shortly after Sigfox’s inclusion in the LoRa Edge products and Connect platforms. The partnership between Semtech and Sigfox could be considered the culmination of UnaBiz's work toward unification, with a report citing in June 2023 that UnaBiz Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Henri Bong dreamed of "uniting Sigfox with LoRa and other options in some grand LPWA standard.”

Partnerships between LPWANs can be tricky. Cooperation can devolve into competition if network providers believe their connectivity technologies are suited for the same IoT applications and geographical markets. Convergence relies on LPWAN providers acknowledging that different network types serve different purposes. LoRa and Sigfox's integration, therefore, depends on both companies conceding that their previous competitor has an advantage in certain markets.

For example, Sigfox has more reliable coverage than LoRaWAN in Latin America. European countries like France can have impressive nationwide public LoRa coverage that rivals Sigfox. UnaBiz and Semtech's partnership allows customers to choose the best connectivity technology for their target geography and grants them the flexibility to switch, understanding that one connectivity solution is not always the right answer. The partnership also enables customers to address mobile IoT applications like asset tracking. Customers can take advantage of Sigfox's extensive global coverage in over 70 countries to track goods in transit, while relying on a LoRaWAN network at the place of the goods’ departure and arrival. Such a customer can use both connectivity technologies for uninterrupted cross-country connectivity without investing in separate chipsets.

Asset tracking applications have always been ideal for Sigfox, a network with unique global roaming capabilities that other LPWANs like LoRaWAN and NB-IoT can lack in certain countries. It makes sense that the 0G technology would be best used in tandem, filling in the gaps of more widely deployed LPWANs that can sometimes have fractured geographical coverage. In a way, the partnership between Semtech and UnaBiz is partly achieving Sigfox’s original goal of providing a global LPWAN. This time, however, that global network is stitched together by different LPWANs, rather than proprietary technology.  

Increased Demand for Global Connectivity Will Lead to Greater Collaboration


The Semtech-UnaBiz partnership is beneficial for LoRa and Sigfox solution providers, and for the Sigfox technology itself. Having both connectivity technologies included on a single SKU, rather than two reduces the cost of making the solution, and customers that require both 0G and LoRaWAN connectivity will not have to purchase two different chipsets, and will not be locked into a single network. Finally, by integrating with LoRa devices, the Sigfox ecosystem can grow with LoRaWAN, one of the most widely used LPWANs in the IoT market. It couples Sigfox’s success with a technology that has a robust device ecosystem, a popular industry backing, and an impressive reputation among IoT customers. It is proof that network collaboration is not only beneficial for IoT users, but for operators as well. 

The partnership also represents an increase in hybrid connectivity as more IoT users demand flexible, global coverage. While many IoT applications still require hyper-local connectivity, demands for smooth international coverage will only increase as more global companies adopt IoT initiatives. This demand is the impetus behind several hybrid connectivity use cases, including an anticipated convergence of cellular and satellite after The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 17. Though the use cases for hybrid LoRa and Sigfox and satellite and cellular connectivity are different, the driving force behind both is customers who are willing to use whatever network is most reliable in any given area to have uninterrupted coverage. As Sigfox likely learned from its company’s failure, the IoT market might not need a single LPWAN that can span the globe. It will instead require that cellular, non-cellular, and satellite LPWANs work together to create constant, international coverage.

Some industry insiders doubt UnaBiz’s convergence strategy. They note that LPWANs are too similar, and there is too much overlap in the target applications to justify a hybrid device. Many LPWANs indeed have comparable capabilities. A hybrid device might be more justified if the two protocols serve two distinct use cases. However, there are meaningful coverage and geographical differences in some LPWA deployments, with public LoRaWAN, Sigfox, and NB-IoT deployments often depending on a country’s network availability. Partnerships like the one between UnaBiz and Semtech bridge those geographical differences, helping IoT customers achieve ubiquitous coverage in what can sometimes be a fragmented market.


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