When the Raspberry Pi came out it was a game changer as for the first time a cheap and easy to use Linux based board with lots of connectivity became available to the masses. Last week I read about a new Arduino board with a Sigfox chip that could be another game changer.
Advertised for 35 euros and costing 50 euros including taxes and shipping, the MKRFOX1200 Arduino board comes with a Sigfox chip and a 2 years network subscription. For those of you who haven’t heard of Sigfox yet, it’s an Internet of Things, very low data rate, Wide Area Network technology (and a company with the same name behind it) deployed in many places.
What makes the 50 euro package compelling is that it includes 2 years of network access, 140 messages of 12 bytes a day that can be sent and 4 messages that can be received. Note that Sigfox is not an IP network so there’s a Sigfox server at the network edge from where the 12 byte messages can be retrieved by your application (or pushed to) over the Internet. That might seem like a limitation but I’m pretty convinced these days that IoT devices should not have an IP-address anyway.
At the moment 3GPP network operators are working hard to get their LTE networks ready for NB-IoT to offer a similar service. They are not quite there yet but I think this is exactly where they need to get:
- Having devices on the market with an inexpensive NB-IoT chip
- A prepaid network subscription included
- A server at the edge to the Internet with an easy API to interact with the device
- Easy availability and international availability so people can just pick up a device without hassle and start developing applications around it.
As I’m really interested to see how this works in practice I decided to order one and I’ve received an email that it has been shipped. Let’s see how that plays out.
Hat tip to Heise where I read about this first.