Sigfox insolvency: mobile radio as a possible alternative for IoT networking

The French company Sigfox has filed for insolvency in Toulouse. The operation of the energy-saving IoT networks is to continue for the time being, but long-term security is still unclear. During the insolvency proceedings, a buyer is being sought to continue operating the networks permanently. An alternative transmission technology to Sigfox could be mobile radio.

Sigfox insolvency

Sigfox insolvent: This is what happened

French Sigfox SA filed for insolvency and creditor protection in Toulouse on 26 January 2022. Sigfox is a company specialising in the provision of low-power IoT networks. The operation of the networks is to continue for the time being. In the course of the insolvency proceedings, Sigfox wants to look for a buyer in order to have a long-term perspective. The proceedings are initially scheduled to last six months. Among other things, Sigfox cites insufficient sales of its own products and a Corona-related shortage of semiconductor components, which has led to slower growth in the IoT industry, as the reasons for its difficulties.

Low-Power Wide-Area Network: What exactly does Sigfox do?

The Sigfox Group has specialized in the development of a global wireless network for IoT devices that uses a license-free frequency band and transmits very little data. As a result, power consumption is low despite the long range, which improves the runtime. Such networks are also known as low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) or low-power wide-area networks. These also include NB-IoT, LoRaWAN and LTE-M, for example, which can be used as an alternative to Sigfox depending on the application.

Sigfox partner companies set up networks in the respective countries, which are managed by the central company Sigfox SA in France. In some countries, including France and temporarily also Germany (until August 2020), Sigfox itself acts as the network operator. According to its own information, Sigfox operates its network in 75 countries and uses the capacity of 75 carriers, via which around 20 million IoT devices exchange up to 80 million messages every day.

What alternatives are there to Sigfox?

The Sigfox network is a so-called LPWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Network) and is therefore designed to transmit data over long distances in an energy-saving manner, thus enabling long battery life. LPWA radio modules are extremely energy-efficient and run for several years on standard commercial batteries. They are powerful enough to transmit and receive data even from areas that are difficult to access or well shielded, e.g. from underground garages, basements or large production halls. Penetration is further increased by using repetitions when sending data packets.

In addition to Sigfox, various LPWA network technologies have come onto the market in recent years. Even though they are similar in essence, there are differences in terms of availability, security, standardization and efficiency. The most widespread on the market are LTE-M, NB-IoT (NarrowBand IoT, LTE Cat-NB), Sigfox and LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network).



open standard


Maximum data rate (gross)

0.1 kbit/s

27 kbit/s

5.47 kbit/s (SF7)

While Sigfox and LoRaWAN were developed by individual companies, NB-IoT and LTE-M are each an open LTE-based standard. They are therefore supported by many large network operators, network equipment suppliers, device and chip manufacturers. Unlike Sigfox and LoRaWAN, NB-IoT is generally operated by mobile network providers. For this reason, global coverage is also greater and more reliable than with proprietary network technologies. As LTE-M and NB-IoT will also be implemented in the new 5G networks, LPWAN technologies are particularly future-proof. In principle, mobile communications in general can also be an alternative to using Sigfox. Which transmission technology is used ultimately depends on the individual application.

What does the Sigfox insolvency mean for users of the network?

As the network will continue to operate during the ongoing insolvency proceedings and the search for a buyer, the insolvency proceedings are not expected to have any direct impact on the operation of IoT devices via the Sigfox network over the next six months. It is also possible that partner companies will step in for Sigfox in some countries. The Heliot Group, for example, has already announced that it will continue to operate the infrastructure regardless of the insolvency of Sigfox SA. Heliot is the operator for the Sigfox network in the DACH region, Switzerland and Liechtenstein as well as in Slovenia and, according to its own statement, is the largest Sigfox operator in Europe. Similar to Heliot, other operators can also continue to operate the network - provided they are economically, network-wise and legally independent of Sigfox SA like Helio. However, this is no guarantee that all Sigfox networks will continue to operate.

Anyone who has been relying on Sigfox to network their IoT devices will therefore still have some time to consider any necessary alternatives if Sigfox cannot be operated permanently. Anyone who has planned a project based on the Sigfox network can - if possible - perhaps wait and see how the insolvency proceedings develop and until it is clearer what the long-term future holds for Sigfox. Those who cannot wait or for whom the situation as a whole is too uncertain have other technologies that can be used as an alternative to Sigfox. One of these is mobile communications, for example. If you are interested in M2M SIM cards to connect your IoT devices, our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Update: UnaBiz takes over Sigfox

UnaBiz from Singapore has been awarded the contract in the auction for Sigfox as part of the insolvency proceedings. The Commercial Court of Toulouse has announced that UnaBiz submitted the best bid out of a total of nine bidders and has thus been awarded the contract for Sigfox. To ensure a smooth transition of activities, the administrators, Sigfox management and employee representatives will meet with UnaBiz in the coming days. The top priority is the continuity of business activities. UnaBiz plans to make Sigfox an open standard and build bridges between Sigfox and LoRa.

Sigfox insolvency: mobile radio as a possible alternative for IoT networking

Laura Gaber, M.Sc., is the longest-serving of our two Marketing Lauras. The Cologne native worked for several years as a communications all-rounder at EU level for the renewable energy sector. In 2016, Laura's curiosity drove her further afield - straight into the north and our arms. Since then, she has been dealing with the latest developments in digitalization, M2M communication and the IoT on a daily basis.


Laura Gaber
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