Sigfox Launches U.S. Network With San Francisco Pilot

The low-power, long-range IoT network covers the entire city, but applications that will leverage it have yet to be announced.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Oct 29, 2015

A year ago, French company Sigfox, which has been deploying its long-range, low-power wide area network (WAN) in cities throughout Europe during the past two years, told IOT Journal that it was preparing to debut its technology in the San Francisco Bay Area. This week, the city of San Francisco's Department of Technology (DT) announced that it has installed Sigfox antennas across the city, at 19 San Francisco Public Library locations. The network is now live and provides coverage across the entire 47-square-mile city. The firm built out the network at no cost to the city in order for San Francisco to evaluate the technology over the course of the coming year.

At a press event held on Tuesday to announce the infrastructure deployment, Jay Nath, the city's chief innovation officer, said that San Francisco's government wants to test whether the Sigfox network could be "incorporated into solving some of our challenges" though he did not name specific applications where it might be leveraged. A DT spokesperson says that the city will announce projects as well, and that its objectives during the pilot will be to determine if San Franciscans can benefit directly from those applications "through delivery of city services or through a new marketplace establishing new job opportunities."

Sigfox antennas have been mounted at 19 branches of San Francisco's Public Library system.
Nath says the city also wants to see if Bay Area entrepreneurs have compelling applications they'd like to deploy by using the Sigfox network. "Can they build new products and services and do things that they could not do before? Those are things that we're going to be looking at," he explains.

On Nov. 20, Sigfox and the city of San Francisco will co-host the Smart City IoT Hackathon, designed to encourage local businesses and individuals to develop applications to leverage the Sigfox network.

Nath cautions that the city's participation in the pilot does not equate to an endorsement of Sigfox's network over other IoT network options. "This is a pilot," he notes. "We want to better understand what value they'll bring. It's a one-year lease we can renew if it's a good fit, but we are not saying this is the right technology."

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