Bits and Waves

An ongoing story about how we got there.
April 24, 2020
Team growing, first prototype, new office
When no new posts are coming, it's either because we have nothing to say, or we have no time to say it. These last months, it was definitely the latter.
The quarantines in Lithuania and Latvia are being gradually lifted. We're not in "back to work" mode - because we never stopped! Our team was lucky enough to be able to continue most its activities remotely. It was slightly upsetting, these last weeks, not to be able to use the new office we had set up just before the quarantine started. Hopefully, we'll get to enjoy our new chairs starting next Monday.
Although we had to postpone the physical installation of macro base stations in Latvia, we took the opportunity to prepare in advance all the technical designs, and plan our deployment to the minute.
We also conducted dozens of interviews, and are about to expand our team with truly exceptional new colleagues.
Finally, we are about to take delivery of the prototype of an amazing device we created from scratch with our partners. It will be a game-changer for companies, industries and people alike. Stay tuned!
What Does Our Coverage Look Like on 25th November, 2019?
When we started deploying the Sigfox network in Lithuania three months ago, we promised our clients we'll cover the 10 largest cities before the end of the year. We're comfortably on track to keep that promise. But what does the coverage actually look like, today? Have a peek at the timeline.
Overflowing garbage containers, this morning at my doorstep.
I can still remember how, when I was a little boy, the garbage truck would honk outside, and me and my parents and all our neighbours would rush downstairs, carrying our garbage. More often than not, we'd have to chase the truck down the street, running with our garbage buckets as fast as we could.

The Soviet era is gone and forgotten, making room for quality of service and convenience. In this spirit, I'm paging our relentless mayor Remigijus Simasius, about a low-cost game changer for sanitation services: connected garbage containers powered by Sigfox. Stick a detector under the hood of existing containers, and you'll know which ones are about to get full, in real time.

1. No more garbage lying around on the street because a container is overflowing. I took the picture below this very morning, at the doorstep of my building, as I was leaving for work.

2. No more getting stuck in traffic behind a half-empty garbage truck. Garbage collectors will go straight to the containers that need to be emptied, instead of following fixed routes and schedules.

3. Better management of the city's budget & infrastructure. The municipality's board will see for itself how much garbage is collected, and how much sanitation capacity is needed.

Ring us up any time, we'll be happy to tell you more!
October 25, 2019
Helping To Monitor The Indoor Air Quality In The Kindergarten Of Bezdonys
This morning, we assisted the amazing Mepco team while they installed air quality sensors in the kindergarten of Bezdonys, a town on the outskirts of Vilnius. Bezdonys is the first of many schools in Lithuania who will start monitoring its indoor air quality, for the benefit and safety of its little residents.
The project started a little ahead of our scheduled network deployment in the area, so we installed a Sigfox micro base station inside the kindergarten building.
Clean air has long been a priority in the EU, and EU legislation sets legally binding standards for a number of pollutants in the air we breathe. Air quality is particularly important for the little ones. Studies show that children who spend long periods in unhealthy buildings are 150% to 300% more prone to coughing and wheezing - symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions.
October 21, 2019
Third Base Station Up, Radio Planning Done
This week, we're starting the large-scale deployment of Sigfox base stations all over Lithuania. After inspecting out first installations and making a few final corrections to the first sites, we're finally sure we know how to install and run all our infrastructure the right way.
One big step towards full deployment was to do our radio planning. From the hundreds of potential spots that were available from our partners' portfolios, we needed to pick the ones that were capable of hosting a Sigfox base station, minimizing the interferences from existing telecom infrastructure, and trying to get the best bang for the buck from the coverage perspective.
I couldn't thank enough our partnering installation engineers, who spent countless hours looking over the photos and blueprints of the sites to make sure that yes, we could set up our antennas and feeder cables and filters and base stations at every spot with as little of extra work as possible. Sometimes, it's better to pick two sites at 30 meters of antenna elevation, instead of one at 100 meters - just because the apparently "amazing" spot is already overcrowded, and you'd need to install a whole new support structure, and a new lightning rod, in order to accommodate your antenna, blowing up your whole budget.
What now? Well, hopefully we'll have enough coverage in Kaunas to run pilots before the end of the month, and Klaipėda will follow in November. We're still on track to achieve our projected coverage before the end of the year. What's that "projected coverage"? Look no further than this map!
Projected Sigfox coverage in Lithuania before end of 2019
September 22, 2019
The First Two Base Stations Are Up And Running
Over the last week, the first green shoots of the Sigfox network have sprung up on the rooftops of downtown Vilnius. Two little antennas, overshadowed by the huge GSM emitters, have been assiduously listening to all Sigfox messages sent by IoT devices from as far away as Vievis.
We've spent the last few days testing the network, running around the city with smart thermometers, motion detectors and CO2 meters to see how messages were being relayed into the cloud.
The actual coverage is pretty close to the simulation, although we'll have to double-check the new office buildings, where radio waves sometimes have to go through as many as eight glass panes before hitting an antenna outside. To achieve inside coverage of these glass towers, GSM operators run a spider web of wires through all the halls and meeting rooms, and connect it all to a base station in the basement. With Sigfox, the more powerful devices worked just fine, but if a client wants to deploy a thousand devices for a smart office solution, we'll commission a dedicated base station to save energy and get those 5 years of battery life per device.
September 2, 2019
The First Batch Of Equipment Has Arrived!
After one month of introductions, coordination and planning, things are getting real. The first batch of equipment - complete with antennas, base stations, low noise amplifiers, etc., has arrived on Monday straight from Sigfox's warehouses in the south of France.
As I opened one box and picked up an antenna, I was overcome by a wave of excitement and angst. This small tube of aluminum would spend the next few years hanging hundreds of feet up in the air, through winds and storms and sunshine and snow, harvesting millions and billions of tiny electromagnetic impulses - messages from connected devices all over Lithuania.
Maybe in the future, one of these antennas would catch and send to the Internet cloud messages from my own electric meter, telling the utility company how much electricity I used that day. Maybe another antenna will catch a message from a leakage detector from above my parents' apartment, saving their furniture and our family pictures from flooding.
Time to hang these babies up all over Lithuania!
August 8, 2019
A Quick Hello From The Garage
Even the greatest adventures have humble beginnings. Although SigFox is an established technology with a proven track record and people all around the world ready to help us, we still have to do a lot of things ourselves, often starting from scratch. It's an exciting yet gruesome task. Right now, our foremost priority is to physically set up the network - perform the radio planning, and install our base stations. We'll start with Vilnius, with a test of two antennas, and then move on from there. Stay tuned.