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IoT startup Sigfox launching 902 MHz network nationwide in U.S.

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Sigfox is one of the more interesting companies in the burgeoning IoT space. Nicholls described the company's service as "optimized for low-bandwidth" applications. Indeed, the company's network technology runs in the unlicensed 902 MHz band in the United States (or the 868 MHz band in Europe) and therefore doesn't require Sigfox to purchase spectrum licenses. And the company's base stations (which require a fiber or DSL connection, a power supply and a rooftop) and its devices (which cost generally just a few dollars and can run on a few AA batteries for years) can communicate over dozens of miles. The result is a simple, low-power network that can be deployed at a fraction of the cost of a traditional cellular network--Nicholls said Sigfox's deployment partner in Spain spent $5 million to deploy the company's network across the country in seven months.


Of course, the result is a system that can only transmit a tiny amount of data a few times a day. Specifically, due to power-emission regulations in the unlicensed band, Sigfox customers can only receive 140 messages per day from their devices, and those messages can only contain around 100 characters. Customers can send only four messages per day to their devices. The messages are relatively prompt though, arriving in a few seconds. Thus, Nicholls said the network cannot support real-time communications like credit card authorizations, but it can send alerts like whether a parking space is empty or occupied.

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What's currently using that band?

Favorite band of WISPs (Wireless ISPs),  cordless phones, smart grid. Remote controlled airplanes and drones. Baby monitors, you name it, it's parked on the 900 ISM band.

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