Sigfox gets vote of confidence from Telefónica

Sigfox has pushed its credentials up a notch with the announcement it has struck a deal with Telefónica to offer mass IoT services worldwide.

With the focus on IoT stepping up over the last couple of months, Sigfox was in a rather precarious position after being publically shamed by Vodafone. During the opening of its dedicated IoT-lab last year, Vodafone decided to throw all its weight behind the NB-IoT standard, casting a shadow over the role of Sigfox; having one of the worlds’ largest telcos ‘diss’ you through the national press is hardly a glowing reference.

“NB-IoT will crush Sigfox and LoRa because it means there will be no need for them,” said Vodafone’s Director of Innovation and Architecture Matt Beal, to our sister-site Light Reading.

But a vote of confidence from Telefónica, another heavy weight in the telco world, does alter the status quo slightly. Sigfox may have been worried it may have been finding its way to the ‘also-ran’ category after Vodafone’s comments, but this latest deal indicates there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe, just maybe, Sigfox can leave peacefully alongside the NB-IoT gang.

“We are honoured to have reached this agreement with Telefónica,” said Ludovic Le Moan, CEO of Sigfox. “It is a true testament to the mass IoT opportunity, which is already a reality today. Existing customers are already developing new use cases based on our combined value proposals, with cellular and Sigfox’s connectivity working seamlessly to provide powerful IoT use cases.”

Such an announcement certainly adds a sense of credibility to the Sigfox case, though perhaps more significant is Telefónica’s investment in NB-IoT with Huawei. Sigfox believes its low-powered connectivity solution will complement Telefonica’s 4G and NB-IoT efforts, and it does in fact serve a different area of the IoT market.

The partnership itself will focus on combining Telefónica’s cellular connectivity offerings, with Sigfox’s connectivity solution, for those customers who have a variety of use cases. Sigfox’s bet on the LPWAN platform has seemingly ruffled some feathers in the industry as there has been very little effort to play nice with the world of NB-IoT, but in this instance Telefónica is using the technologies alongside each other. It is a useful message for Sigfox to go out to the rest of the world with.

Sigfox has noted the two companies are already in discussions with a number of customers in the asset-tracking and smart-metering, expecting mass IoT rollouts across Europe and Latin America in 2017. WND, Sigfox’s partner in Latin America has already started discussions with local Telefónica entities in the region.

“The simplicity of Sigfox’s connectivity solution and its global IoT ecosystem are a great complement to our IoT connectivity technologies and our LPWA strategy,” said Andres Escribano, New IoT Connectivity Business Director at Telefónica. “Together, we are able to help our customers capitalise upon the great IoT opportunity and conquer new markets.”

Sigfox may have taken the pressure off a little bit with Telefónica’s endorsement, but it is not exactly in the clear yet. Vodafone and a significant number of other telcos are spending big in the NB-IoT space, so it will need a few more supporters to ensure it doesn’t get forgotten.

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