Samsung announced today that it has become the latest backer of Sigfox, a French company that is rolling out cellular-style wireless networks dedicated to the Internet of Things. The amount of the investment has not been disclosed yet, but Samsung did confirm that it will add Sigfox compatibility to itsnew line of Artik chips for connected devices.
Sigfox’ technology uses ultra narrow-band radio signals to send small chunks of data across large areas while using little power — ideal for the billions of sensors, appliances and other smart devices that are already joining the IoT. Though similar to the city-wide coverage of cell towers, Sigfox networks provide a parallel channel that is cheaper than traditional mobile data plans. The company raised $115 million in February by building partnerships with network operators in Europe and Asia, and is also looking to expand in the U.S.
Integrating with Samsung’s Artik chips will make it easy for developers and manufacturers to connect devices to Sigfox networks. That could make Artik especially attractive for uses where Sigfox shines, like city-wide networks to connect municipal infrastructure or agricultural networks that can cover large farms in more remote areas.
“This integration positions Sigfox technology as the ‘fourth protocol’ for Internet connectivity, joining GSM, Bluetooth and WiFi,” said Sigfox CEO Ludovic Le Moan.
Of course, there is competition for that “fourth protocol” market from the likes of Link Labs, Helium and Neul — but there’s no denying Sigfox has a substantial head-start in terms of both funding and deployment.