Sigfox combines cellular IoT with its own tech in GCT chip

IoT (Pixabay)
Several OEM customers are said to be designing solutions using GCT’s GDM7243I SoC for applications such as tracking, wearables, security, agriculture and more.

Sigfox unveiled a hybrid IoT solution, an integrated chip that supports LTE Category M1/Narrowband IoT/EC-GSM and Sigfox’s own wireless IoT technology, and it’s already got the support of European mobile operators.

Specifically, the product is GCT Semiconductor’s integrated single chip GDM7243I, which several OEM customers already are said to be designing solutions for, targeting applications such as tracking, wearables, security, agriculture, healthcare, industrial and consumer.

The hybrid (cellular + Sigfox) mode operation enables use cases that the companies say will transform both the traditional cellular as well as the fledgling IoT markets. GDM7243I enables ultra-long battery life tracking devices to connect using the Sigfox wireless IoT network for several years without the need for frequent battery recharging.

“GCT provides a single chip innovative solution that further proves that Sigfox and Cellular (LTE Cat M1/NB1/EC-GSM) are complementary technologies by leveraging the best of both worlds—ultra-long battery life using Sigfox and high throughput cellular connectivity. We look forward to a successful launch of the GDM7243I by Sigfox operators and mobile network operators worldwide,” said Ludovic Le Moan, CEO of Sigfox, in a press release.

“Telefonica announced its support for Sigfox wireless IoT connectivity as complementary to our cellular networks, at MWC in February 2017,” said Andres Escribano, New IoT Connectivity Director of Telefonica. “GDM7243I with hybrid mode Sigfox and Cellular connectivity is an innovative solution that aligns with our partnership with Sigfox and will enable innovative devices and novel usage models to accelerate the growth of the IoT market.”

GDM7243I-based tracking devices operate on the Sigfox network for location tracking but switch to the cellular network for live asset recovery in case of a geofence breach, the companies explained. Hybrid devices can connect to the Sigfox wireless IoT network and operate in low-power mode to send and receive notifications only. The Sigfox network also can provide backup connectivity to hybrid devices in case of cellular network coverage limitations, congestion, breakdown or jamming of security/alarm systems.  

The announcement was made at Sigfox World IoT Expo 2017 in Prague, Czech Republic, where a panel session was held that featured speakers from Telefonica and T-Mobile Czech Republic.

“I can only say that I welcome this initiative because it eases the life of customers,” said Milan Haba, program director of integrated network strategy at T-Mobile Czech Republic, adding life would be a lot easier “if there were less LPWA technologies available,” according to a Mobile World Live article.

Separately, Sigfox showed off a 20-cent IoT wireless tracker chip that could report when and approximately where a package is opened. The company demonstrated a prototype wireless module contained in a cardboard envelope, triggering the sending of a text message when the envelope was opened, according to Network World.