Tag Archives: LPWA

IoT, the tracking use-case

I want to start a new category of posts about IoT, not focus on the technology itself but on the use-cases. That said, for sure my words will be on the technological aspects of this use-case. The objective is to let you understand what are the solution but also what are the challenges behind that use-case. To start I’ve selected the Tracking use-case, reviewing all the GPS, WiFi and operator technics.

Regarding my experience in IoT from the past 5 years, one of the biggest market for LPWAn is actually assets tracking. In number I assume alarm backup is a little bit behind but thanks to one uniq actor. Tracking is far away first regarding the number of actors already having implemented a solution in production. This is also where we find the largest number of objects on the market for a single use-case.

That’s why I decided to start with this use case. I also know it really well for being the founder of one of these solution : Foxtrackr and I’ve already implemented all the technics described below.

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Do I need to implement a private LPWan network ?

Recurrent question where I usually see the wrong option taken by industrials: do I need to implement my own private network for m LPWA network ? In many case the wrong choice has been made due to a lack of understanding of network total cost of ownership. For sure I heard element about MY DATA privacy, but honestly, all the companies are putting added value data into the Cloud, so don’t tell me you unknown machine temperature is a sensitive data ?!? That said, let’s back to the true question : when does it make sense to create your own private network ?

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The Sigfox radio protocol

Sigfox phase decoding

Sigfox is a LPWAn communication technology and network dedicated to IoT. The specificity of this solution is related to the LPWAn caracteristics : communicating Low Power (25mW) and Wide Area (60km).

This is possible thanks to particular radio characteristics and modulation. This post will describes how it works at radio level and protocol level.

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Sigfox Radio Signal Analyzer

Sigfox just released publicly its Radio Signal Analyzer tool. This is a tool for the device & module maker to prepare the P1 certification : basically it checks the radio signal shape, power… and tell you if you are following the requirements.

The tool have to be used with the SIGFOX SDR dongle provided with the SNEK tool.

The software solution can be downloaded here : https://support.sigfox.com/downloads/sigfoxradiosignalanalyzer.iso

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The impact of putting an antenna in a box

IoT design a usually a matter of antenna as already seen in different previous blog post. Antenna performance is the assurance of your capacity to deploy your object in larger zone and a way to save energy by reducing transmission power.

As we will see, if you get a hardware component and simply put it in a box its radio behavior will be totally different as the box is impacting the transmission.

This post will practically show you the impact of a box on a device radio quality.

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Meet the Sigfox founders

This last monday I had the chance to meet the two Sigfox founders Ludovic Le-Moan and Christophe Fourtet during a really nice day at Labege (SigFox headquarter) with other Sigfox ambassadors.

From the meeting we had with the founders I retained some of the Sigfox strategical guide line:

 

 

  • Scalability –  this is the major point raised during our discussions : the network must be able to scale and all what has been designed in the radio protocol & technology, as in the cloud architecture was for scalability.

Thanks to this initial design no big change are expected in the radio solution in the coming years. It has already been designed for future.

In regard to this scalability strategy we have also meet the team operating the network. I’ve seen a really nice Network Operation Center, well equiped and with about 40 people involved. It has been fun for me as in my daily job I’m managing internal inter-application communication of a large company. The volume of data we are proceeding every day is quite similar as of now but Sigfox is well more equiped than I am and better prepared for scaling 😉

 

  • Reliability – The ISM band will continue to have more and more noise on it coming from all the coming radio device using it. Sigfox design has been made to ensure a long term capacity to support this evolution. Ultra narrow band is actually the best and secure way to continue to communicate over noisy environment also protecting this common good by limiting the spectral usage.

 

  • Simplicity –  Sigfox has been made to be simple to use with no parameters to tune the radio or the protocol. Everything is defined to ensure a good quality in the communications. This spirit will be kept in the future but potentially we will have the capability to tweak some of the parameters. We could imagine to limit the repetition time for frame with lower criticality. This will save power or send more frame per hour. We could imagine to get higher speed. Why not having more downlink ? Larger payload ?

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Sigfox technical basics

Sigfox has just published a documentation on the technical basis of the network. This pdf document is a good summary of all what you need to know to get start on the technology.

The document is attached here Sigfox technical overview

To complete this overview you can also take a look to my different post & video

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Sigfox & LoRaWan network architecture and network kernels

New episode of my LPWAn post series, this time, about the network architecture and the role of the network kernel.

The network architecture is different than a classical IP communication from client to server: the LPWAn architecture is based on a kernel network allowing the protocol transformation from the Sigfox / LoRaWan world to the IP-Internet world.

In the LPWAn protocol the addressing is limited to one device address only to reduce the frame size and as a consequence all the frame have to be captured by a central system: the network kernel. It will route the message correctly to the end user application based on device association made on registration.

This post is related to a french video (as usual) and detailed in the following part of this post.

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