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LoRa winning battle over Sigfox, say Anglia IoT delegates

Steve Rogerson
June 27, 2017



LoRa is winning the LPWAN battle over Sigfox, according to delegates at last week’s Anglia IoT conference at Old Trafford, home of the famous Manchester United football club.
 
Anglia, a distributor of electronic components, created the conference to let designers hear about every element of an IoT device in one place, from antennas to connectors.
 
Andy Haurman, field applications engineering manager with ST Microelectronics, said: “There is a lot of interest in LoRa, but we do have products fully compliant with Sigfox too.”
 
However, he said that what generally happened was that people looked at Sigfox and saw its limitations and then moved to LoRa.
 
“I see LoRa winning overall,” he said. “It needs to be very specific for people to go for Sigfox. People look at Sigfox and then go to LoRa. We have an agreement with Semtech to make drivers that will sit next to their transceivers if you need to get LoRa. We don’t have a single chip for LoRa yet. That will be next year. It is a little frustrating, but when that comes out we will be up and running.”
 
Jonathan Haynes from Taiwanese embedded computer company Advantech agreed. “All the talk seems to be on LoRa at the moment,” he said. “We are seeing the most energy being put into LoRa rather than Sigfox. It seems to be the right technology for the majority of applications.”
 
However, he said that Advantech did also produce products for Sigfox.
 
“I think LoRa will win but we are not putting all our eggs in one basket,” he said. “We do have some products for Sigfox, but LoRa is a lot further ahead at the moment.”
 
Alvin Tucker, M2M sales manager at Gemalto, believes there will end up being a balance between these technologies and the various cellular methods that the mobile operators hope will become dominant.
 
“With LoRa,” he said, “Semtech owns the IP and protocol stack. LoRa chips for base stations and gateways are only coming from LoRa. Sigfox is an open protocol but the company is the sole vendor for base stations and cloud infrastructure.”
 
Scott D’Cruze from battery maker Varta added: “The LoRa network is the one most people are talking about in the UK for things like pet tracking, smart metering, trash collection, vending machines and gas monitoring. We are also seeing LoRa used for vehicle tracking and fleet management. We are seeing it in wearables. Another big one is safety.”
 
Sigfox, he said, was getting more custom outside of the UK.
 
“But the data rate is lower, though it is quite cheap and cost effective,” he said. “Sigfox is starting to come in the UK. It is big in France, because that is where it started. Ireland has embraced it in a big way, mostly for agriculture for keeping track of livestock. It is also finding applications in public parking, asset management, water meters, fall detection, distress buttons and so on.”
 
WND-UK has joined Sigfox’s operator community to accelerate national coverage of an IoT network to up to 95 per cent of the UK by 2019.
 
UK network infrastructure company Arqiva has been a Sigfox operator since 2014, focusing on delivering IoT connectivity in the country’s most populated urban areas. Arqiva acts as a distributor for Sigfox’s network connectivity. Through Arqiva, Sigfox’s network already covers 30 per cent of the UK population across 11 major cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield.
 
To complete network coverage in the UK, Sigfox has been working with WND-UK, which has already begun its deployment and is on track to reach up to 95 per cent of the UK population by 2019. The company is a subsidiary of WND, a long-standing regional partner for Latin America. WND already delivers Sigfox connectivity in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and soon Argentina.
 
Arqiva will continue to service its existing network infrastructure and WND-UK will deploy, operate and maintain a nationwide network, as well as develop Sigfox’s services. Both networks are interoperable for Arqiva and WND-UK customers and will enable applications in areas such as smart logistics, asset tracking and facilities management.