IoT Strategies

Sigfox Said to Face Customer Backlash

France's Sigfox has shrugged off concerns that have recently surfaced about the potential shortcomings of its wireless technology.

Sigfox is among several companies developing the so-called low-power, wide-area network (or LPWAN) technologies used to provide connectivity for sensors installed in smart meters, industrial equipment and millions of other devices.

As reported by Light Reading, the company has recently faced a barrage of criticism over its business model -- under which Sigfox takes a huge cut of service revenues from its network partners -- and reliance on a proprietary technology, as opposed to an open standard. (See The Wolf at Sigfox's Door.)

Those criticisms have been made by Sigfox's rivals, which obviously have an axe to grind. But the latest attack on the company has come from Nigiloc, a French startup developing tracking gadgets for bicycles, which was last year reported by Fortune magazine to be a Sigfox customer.

A source close to the matter has recently told Light Reading that Nigiloc is one of several companies to have "terminated" rollout activities with Sigfox because of "bad coverage and failing technology."

Light Reading approached Nigiloc for a response to these comments and received a written statement from CEO Gilbert Wilhelm. "Sigfox's contract is not broken, but it is true that the test we have made with Sigfox for geolocation did not conform with our quality standard," said Wilhelm. "Indeed, I think that Sigfox is a good product for non-moving IoT. In mobility Sigfox has important troubles [sic] for transmitting the data."

According to Light Reading's source, other companies that have experienced problems with Sigfox include Clear Channel Outdoor, an advertising company, and French insurance player MAAF.

Clear Channel was previously reported to be using Sigfox technology to support billboard advertising in France, while MAAF struck an agreement with Sigfox in 2012 regarding the deployment of smoke detectors in homes. Neither of those services would require any mobility.

"We don't want to comment on Sigfox," said a spokesperson for Clear Channel when asked to confirm or deny if the company was still working with Sigfox. MAAF did not respond to requests for comment on the current status of its relationship with Sigfox.

Want to know more about the Internet of Things? Check out our dedicated IoT content channel here on Light Reading.

A second source with knowledge of internal goings-on at Sigfox claims to have heard similar "rumors" about the company's problems and says "things they assumed would be quite easy have turned out to be difficult or impossible using the approach they originally had in mind."

Sigfox would not deny that Nigiloc, Clear Channel and MAAF have experienced difficulties but said it has never provided any commitment to support "quick-moving devices" to Nigiloc and that all three companies are among its "earliest" customers.

"I don't want to go into details on specific customers of what has worked and what hasn't worked for them," says Thomas Nicholls, Sigfox's executive vice president of communications. "[These] are not large-scale customers today … and some of them might have had issues not related to connectivity."

Nicholls also points out that other companies have satisfactorily engaged in much larger-scale deployments of Sigfox technology, singling out alarm-services company Securitas Direct, which accounts for nearly a sixth of the 7 million connections that Sigfox has so far agreed to support worldwide. "Sigfox has a commitment of 1.2 million connections and sells B2C [business-to-consumer] products in Spain and France -- indoor devices that use the Sigfox network today," he says.

Light Reading approached Securitas Direct for a comment on its relationship with Sigfox but had not heard back at the time of publication.

Next page: The LPWAN threats

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Fulkrum90 7/4/2016 | 10:34:29 AM
Re: Reaction from SIGFOX The problem with NB-IOT is its still about 18 months away from commercial access globally. SIGFOX is deployed completely in 7 countries, rolling out fast in a further 13 and will cover 60 countries in under 24 months. Also with NB-IoT its a different animal to SIGFOX and completely complimentary. 
jayakd0 6/28/2016 | 9:48:54 PM
Re: Reaction from SIGFOX True Seven it was a detailed article, wish SigFox should have countered the article commenting on the performance aspects of its technology, especially in the mobility scenario, upstream vs downstream. Regarding this example  in the article

----> One example he cites is a more sophisticated vehicle-tracking solution that would use Sigfox to transmit location data at occasional intervals but switch to NB-IoT for real-time updates in the event of a theft

I don't understand why someone want both technologies to be integrated in a cost sensitive product/service, when NB-IoT can address both requirements. 


brooks7 6/28/2016 | 5:55:38 PM
Re: Reaction from SIGFOX Did you read the article and note that the basic facts in your reply are actually in the article?

Complaining that criticism has a motive is a normal tactic of the fanatic.


Executiv19313 6/28/2016 | 11:03:00 AM
Reaction from SIGFOX
As the pioneer and leader in the space of operated low-power connectivity, SIGFOX is often attacked. Although we do not generally comment on such attacks, this article makes unacceptable claims based upon false rumours, which prompts us to react.
SIGFOX is today available nationwide in 6 countries and under deployment in 14 other countries. The network, that currently spans more than 1,3 million square kilometers, is the world's only large scale operated low-power network. It's not just technical network coverage, but a global service with real SLAs (Service Level Agreements), already today supporting applications such as B2C home alarm systems, underground metering, tracking, indoor boilers, etc.
There are more than 7 million registered devices on the network from a wide range of customers, including world-leading multi-nationals (Securitas Direct, Engie, Bosch, etc.). None of the hundreds of customers who have successful businesses, with critical service level agreements, have been interviewed for this article. None. Only three companies, who evaluated the service years ago, were contacted and the only answer was from a company who actually underlines that the service works well, but that they needed a different type of service for their specific solution. It is unacceptable, based upon those facts, to employ a title such as "Sigfox Said to Face Customer Backlash".
The financial situation at SIGFOX is more than healthy. Revenues triple from year-to-year, the company raised €100M recently, totaling €127M for now, and as you can therefore imagine still has a lot of money in the bank. There are absolutely no arguments supporting the use of a title such as "funding challenges", or the questions raised therein.
One can only wonder what motivates the publication of such an article... 
Thomas Nicholls
Fulkrum90 6/28/2016 | 5:56:21 AM
Not quite accurate Surprise. Surprize. No issues in Ireland. Did you see how polite the SIGFOX guy was. It would have been nice for him to say the products mentioned werent fit for purpose. 
CEOandFo98846 6/27/2016 | 8:05:00 PM
No surprises here From what I know of Sigfox these comments on performance were to be totally expected. 

danielcawrey 6/27/2016 | 10:56:51 AM
Battles These battles do seem interesting and thus newsworthy. 

I would have to agree that this industry is so new it is hard to tell what's going to happen. IoT has a ton of potential, but using it in objects that don't move is probably the best bet for now – it's the lowest cost option to getting this to market. 
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