The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
The Internet of things Network is a digital interconnection network between devices, people, and the Internet itself, which allows for the exchange of data between them, in such a way that key information about the use and performance of the devices and objects can be captured to detect patterns, make recommendations, improve efficiency, and create better experiences for users.
There are various smart devices, such as sensors, smartphones, and wearables, which collect necessary data from the devices that can be utilized to enhance customers’ experience. The internet of things technology helps in connecting various smart devices together to ease the operation and sharing of data amongst themselves to facilitate quicker decision-making and enhance business processes.
A new breed of IoT applications will emerge from the connectivity of intelligent devices in order to meet increasing consumer demands as well as improve productivity. Besides the proliferation of connected devices, the continued adoption of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology will spur the development of a wide range of new consumer-centric services, or even facilitate new business models. In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), people and things will be intelligently connected to one another, leading to innovations in business and Industry 4.0.
These developments have, in turn, driven up the demand for high data speeds to support bandwidth-intensive applications in real-time. The basic requirements of the IoT are that all devices need to be connected wherever they happen to be. The current IoT leverages existing wired and wireless network infrastructures for communications and control. However, as IoT devices continue to proliferate in parallel with higher data rate communications and data services, these existing networks will become increasingly stressed and congested, particularly in remote and underserved regions of the world.
For some harsh environments, such as deserts, forests, mountains, and oceans, the terrestrial network cannot be covered entirely. Additionally, in the face of natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., the terrestrial network is vulnerable. With its extensive coverage and strong system invulnerability, satellite communication systems can provide access services for IoT terminals in remote areas, realizing the “Internet of Everything” in the real sense of the world.
A satellite is an artificial or man-made object that revolves around Earth. It provides a bird’s eye view of large areas of Earth at the same time. It can collect more data at a quicker pace than the instruments on the ground. Advancements in satellites are only accelerating the possibilities opened up by putting IoT technologies into orbit. Chief among those advancements is the CubeSat revolution, which is both shrinking and standardizing satellite construction.
Satellite IoT refers to the use of satellite communication networks and services to connect terrestrial IoT sensors and IoT end-nodes to a server (e.g., in a public or private cloud), either in conjunction with or as an alternative to terrestrial communication networks.
Satellite IoT Applications
Satellite communication supports IoT applications in various areas, including deep sea, remote sites, and mining locations, where cellular connectivity is unavailable. In order to extend IoT coverage beyond cities into remote regions; satellite and IoT networks are merged together. This integrated network will extend the IoT coverage to larger and further parts of the earth with the help of satellites.
Truly global IoT connectivity, something that only satellite can offer, will change environmental monitoring, agriculture, public infrastructure management and anything related to wide area remote sensing. The availability of low cost, low power global connectivity will increase the total number of connected sensors and with that data-points in a variety of global environmental, societal , industrial, agricultural and logistical applications increasing the accuracy of data-based forecasts and trends.
Satellite technology serves as a key enabler for these new services – across industries, across geographical borders – to transform IoT connectivity in applications that range from consumers to oil and gas to the transportation sector. Connecting remote assets – Business operations that extend to geographically remote environments depend on satellites to provide the critical communication means to conduct remote facility monitoring and real-time asset management at unmanned sites and offshore platforms.
Energy and mining companies are starting to explore more extensive usage of satellite-based sensor networks to support their offshore exploration projects. Broadband connectivity on trains, cargo vehicles and maritime vessels is a burgeoning trend across the global transportation landscape, and satellite communications is key to enabling the next generation of mobility services. Consider tracking devices on cargo containers being shipped across the Pacific Ocean, for example. There’s no 5G network; the only way to keep an eye on a container being shipped from China to California is via satellite. A truck driver traveling between several European countries, for example, would typically need to pay for multiple carriers along the route to ensure continuous service.
Satellite services can facilitate the deployment of smart grids in remote regions where terrestrial networks fall short and act as a reliable backup network for critical services such as safety and security. Facilitating mobile banking and retail – Satellite can serve as the main communications backbone that keeps wireless ATMs and mobile point-of-sales applications running smoothly across a broad geographical span.
Types of Satellite Networks Used in IoT Solutions
There are three different types of satellite networks available: low earth orbit (LEO), medium earth orbit (MEO) and geostationary. Satellites in geostationary orbit are moving at the same speed as the planet, and so appear to be stationary to us. As they’re in a much higher orbit, they can ‘see’ much more of the earth, so fewer satellites are needed to cover a large territory.
Geostationary satellites usually boast large solar panels, which support the high-power output required for data transmission. As the data has further to travel with geostationary networks, latency is also higher, roughly 100ms.
Geostationary satellites are more efficient for broader coverage. While they are more expensive to set up, these costs are predictable, and the operating costs are often lower, thanks to a high signal throughput meaning multiple IoT devices per modem is possible. As such, these networks are often well suited for applications requiring real-time updates, for example condition and location monitoring, SCADA telemetry and monitoring backhauls.
MEO satellites orbit the earth at higher altitudes than those in LEO and therefore provide a greater coverage area. Often MEO satellites are described as a compromise between the advantages of LEO and geostationary satellites. While a constellation is still required for continuous coverage, fewer satellites are required when compared to LEO constellations. Moreover, these constellations operate with a lower latency than their geostationary equivalents.
Many of these plans involve using low earth orbit (LEO) satellite systems. LEO satellites orbit between 400 and 1,000 miles above the earth’s surface. Data that is transmitted in LEO is sent from one satellite to another as the satellites generally move in and out of the range of the earth-bound transmitting stations. LEO is ideal for many communication applications because it takes much less energy to place the satellites into LEO and can use less powerful amplifiers for transmission.
The United Nations estimates that almost four billion people around the world are underserved with respect to internet access, a fact that is becoming more problematic as the world grows increasingly dependent on connectivity. If an anywhere-Internet network using LEO could be implemented, we could bring all of the IoT-based technological advancements to the global population.
Most startups have ambitious plans to launch dozens to hundreds of CubeSats to provide global coverage and rapid data movement. For example, Sky and Space Global plans an initial equatorial belt of around 200 satellites, but could expand services to the entire globe by launching additional satellites. Adding more satellites can be done by some businesses on an incremental basis, with build and launch financing provided by cash flow from customers.
Ultimately, selecting the right satellite network type for any IoT solution is dependent on many factors, including location and mobility of IoT devices, and expected volume and frequency of data transmission.
IoT products for defence and government sectors
Reliability of wireless communications is still a challenging issue. Normal wireless networks do not provide the high reliability required in the mission critical applications. These issues can be addressed through the satellite networks. Satellites are normally available with a better reliability than the cellular networks. With proper constellation arrangements satellites provide more than 99.9% availability which is much higher than the current cellular networks. This is essential for the mission critical applications such as disaster management and military communications. High availability ensures high reliability under diverse conditions.
Location based services need the exact locations to execute or deliver their services. IoT based networks along with the support of the satellites provide better location details than the cellular networks. These fine details can be used for military applications and several other cases where location accuracies are critical.
IoT satellite Network Architecture
In the current satellite IoT system, the terminal forwards the acquired data to the terrestrial cloud platform through satellites for post-processing. However, cloud computing platforms are often physically and logically distant from the terminal. It results in a high communication latency between the terminal and the cloud.
Opportunities range from selling additional capacity on GEO (geostationary) satellites in C-, Ku- and Ka-band for direct or backhaul connectivity to deploying new LEO (low earth orbit) or HEO (highly elliptical orbit) constellations, optimized for the IoT market. Satellite technology has the potential to be a versatile and cost-effective solution to address IoT connectivity needs.
With the development of microsatellite technology, the cost of satellite development and deployment has decreased significantly. Low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations have begun to provide powerful support for IoT devices. LEO satellites orbit between 400 and 1,000 miles above the earth’s surface. Data that is transmitted in LEO is sent from one satellite to another as the satellites generally move in and out of the range of the earth-bound transmitting stations. LEO is ideal for many communication applications because it takes much less energy to place the satellites into LEO and can use less powerful amplifiers for transmission.
Different types of sensors are connected with VSAT terminals for various applications such as temperature, motion, humidity, pressure etc. The sensor data are collected and transmitted to central Hub station for monitoring purpose. Moreover the network is used for voice as well as data transmission/reception. Typically IP/RS232/RS485 interface configurations are used for data interface between PC and VSAT baseband part.
IoT part typically consists of three major entities viz. Gateway, end devices and cloud. The user end devices communicate with gateway as per IoT wireless network frequency bands. VSAT and Hub hardware is broadly divided into RF equipments and baseband equipments. RF equipments include RF Transceiver (Tx/Rx), Power amplifier, LNA and antenna. Baseband equipments include satellite modem, Mux/DeMux and baseband interface part (voice/data/sensor).
There are many IoT wireless technologies, LoRaWAN and Sigfox are popular due to their low power and wide network area coverage. The IoT uses terrestrial communication topology for wireless air interface for communication with end devices and other wireless/wired network.
NMS (Network Management Software) protocol is integrated at Hub station and remote VSATs. Hub station NMS will have monitoring and control of all the parameters of the remote VSATs while Remote NMS takes care of monitoring and control (M&C) of only remote system entities (e.g. Rf transceiver, SSPA, LNA, Modem, MUX, switches etc.) NMS software is basically will have GUI (Graphical User Interface) and protocol for user to M&C various parameters such as equipment health status, frequency, power etc. of Hub equipments as well as remote VSAT equipments.
Figure shows examples of utilization of various types of Satellite Communication Systems to support the operation of the IoT Systems and to provide IoT Services.
IoT using GEO satellites
Existing GEO satellites provide terabytes of capacity worldwide, mainly used for direct-to-home broadcast and internet over satellite connections. The challenge for using such GEO satellites in IoT applications is the path loss between earth and satellite and the slotted nature of the GEO orbit. This results in the need for rather large terminal antennas, with enough gain to close the link and with sufficient directivity to avoid interference into adjacent satellites and systems. IoT applications, on the other hand, typically require low cost and small size terminals and should not necessitate any manual pointing toward a satellite.
Currently, GEO communication Regular Satellites and High Throughput Satellites (HTS) are capable to provide the IoT information data transmission services. Both types of GEO satellites can be equipped with a payload with Transparent Transponders or Regenerative Transponders. Allocation of the separate User Beams and Gate Way Beams is the feature of the architecture of the HTS geostationary satellite communication systems.
The interface of the VSAT Terminal to the LAN or WiFi serves as an external interface of the geostationary satellite communication system to the IoT Smart Things. The VSAT Terminal multiplexes IoT information bursts into a common flow and transmits it over the Up-Link. The HTS satellite transfers the received flow from the VSAT User Terminal to the Gate Way Beam. The GateWay, or its analogue – the HUB of VSAT Network in case of geostationary Regular Satellites utilization, is connected to the Internet Backbone, through which the IoT information bursts get to the Cloud Computing Data Center.
To improve the efficiency of cloud services provided with the use of satellite telecommunication systems, the Microsoft Company together with Azure Company started the project implementation on the Cloud Storage Data Centers location in close proximity with satellite teleports
LEO IOT Satellite Networks
Back in the 1990s, there were a number of large space-based satellite network ventures, such as Iridium, GlobalStar, Teledesic, etc. but these ventures were hobbled by high costs, and only limited numbers of relatively low-data rate satellites were ultimately deployed. However, since that time, satellite technology has greatly advanced, bringing the cost of deployment down significantly. “Toaster-sized” micro-satellites can be launched dozens at a time to low earth orbits (LEO), reducing launch costs, while delivering performance comparable to larger, older satellites at higher orbits.
Also, operating at low earth orbits, satellites will also significantly reduce network latencies, while introducing challenging tracking, synchronization and handoff issues. Advances in microwave/mm-wave phased array technology and advanced CMOS over the last several years will also be key enablers. The new networks should not be expected to replace terrestrial networks, but will integrate seamlessly with these networks to provide ubiquitous global connectivity.
The first application option of LEO satellite communication systems is the utilization of the IoT narrow-band long range data transmission modified protocol LoRaWAN with the exploitation of the CubeSat form factor spacecraft. IoT Smart Things within the CubSat coverage zone, transmit IoT information bursts by LoRaWAN protocol. CubSat receives and retransmits the signals, which come at the LoRaWAN Gate Way. The LoRaWAN Gate Way is connected with the local communication system and provides IoT data transmission through the Internet network to the Cloud Computing Data Center. The IoT Service Control actions bursts are transmitted in the opposite direction. In this architecture, the satellite segment is used as a radio extension link, i.e. as a tool providing the transmission range increase of the LoRaWAN protocol signals.
StarLink satellites form steerable beams that cover End User Terminals and Gate Ways Earth Station, and provide broadband access satellite service. The external interface of the StarLink end user terminal serves as the StarLink system interface for IoT systems. IoT Smart Things are being connected to a StarLink terminal via a short-range radio access network, for example WiFi or LAN. Then the IoT information packets are being transmitted in the information up-link flow to the StarLink satellite, where it is being routed towards the beam covering the gate way at a given time. StarLink satellites provide an Inter-Satellite Optical (laser) Link. In this case, as shown in Figure , the IoT information packet can be transmitted over Inter-Satellite Optical Line from the satellite which covers the StarLink end user terminal with connected IoT Smart Things, to a satellite which covers a Gate Way Earth Station. The StarLink Gate Way Earth Station interface is connected to the Internet Backbone and IoT Smart Things information packets come to the Cloud Computing Data Center through this connection.
The OneWeb System Architecture includes two groups of satellite beams: the User Beams providing connection with the User Terminal and the GateWay Beams providing connection with the GateWay Earth Station. The interface of the OneWeb User Terminal to the LAN or WiFi serves as the interface of the OneWeb system and therefore the borderline of the OneWeb system to the IoT Smart Things. The OneWeb User Terminal transmits IoT information bursts of the IoT Smart Things connected to it in the general flow through the Up-Link to the OneWeb satellite, which relays the received User Beams information flow to the Gate Way beam. The OneWeb Gate Way Earth Station is connected to the Internet Backbone. The Gate Way Earth Station receives information bursts of the IoT Smart Things in the general flow, extracts them and provides routing over the Internet Network to the Cloud Computing Data Center.
Hybrid terrestrial-satellite systems
Whenever the number of IoT devices in a given network or application is high, controlling the cost per device is of essence for commercial success. For such a scenario, hybrid systems using many low cost terrestrial-only IoT devices in combination with few satellite connected aggregation terminals are worth considering. Use of terrestrial-only IoT technology allows meeting the cost point while the few satellite-connected aggregation terminals provide ubiquitous connectivity. Designers of such systems need to understand both terrestrial IoT and satellite communication, to mix and match the best of both worlds.
Satellite Edge and Fog Computing
Satellite communication systems are flexible enough to be adapted for implementation of Fog and Edge Computing. Edge Computing is a Distributed Computing Model when computation takes place near location where data is collected and analyzed, rather than on a Centralized Server or in the Cloud.
Implementation of Edge Computing in satellite telecommunication systems can be ensured by supplementing of the User Terminal or VSAT Terminal Modem with an additional Computing Module or Single-Board Computer. Structurally, a User Terminal or VSAT Terminal is a board with modem chips installed on it. Through modernization, such a design can be supplemented with a Single-Board Computer, which will provide the implementation of Edge Computing. An alternative option is to connect a Single-Board Computer to an Ethernet-type Local Area Network with a Wi-Fi router being connected to it as well as other equipment of radio access technology for short-range IoT Smart Things. This added Computing Capacity will support the IoT Smart Things computing needs within the coverage of a short-range radio access network. In this case, only the results information about the IoT local information processing will be transmitted via a satellite communication channel.
The implementation of Fog Computing in the satellite segment of IoT Systems is possible by supplementing the orbital segment with Computing Capacity for the Fog computing implementation. Supplementing the Orbital Segment of Satellite Communications Systems with Computing Capacity will allow the implementation of Fog computing for processing of the IoT Information accepted from IoT Smart Things located in the service area of the Satellite. As a result, the efficiency of information processing will increase, and the Delay Time will be reduced.
An alternative solution is the development and launch of GEO Satellite, with a Cloud Data Center Module as a Payload. These Satellites will be accessed via GEO Satellite-Repeaters according with Inter-Satellite Links. To increase data storage and computing operations liability, to increase cloud computing productivity, Satellite Cloud Computing Data Centers will be connected to ground-based Cloud Computing Data Centers provided with special high-speed secure radio links.
Race to launch Satellite IoT systems
The typical satellite system that has been built for IoT is Orbcomm, ARGOS, LoRaWAN, etc.
Orbcomm is a commercial global low-orbit satellite communication system. The system uses packet switching to achieve bidirectional short data transmission, providing global low-rate wireless data communication services. It consists of 47 satellites, each of which covers a surface with a radius of 5100 km. With the Orbcomm satellite communication system, users can carry out applications, including remote data collection, system monitoring, tracking and positioning of vehicle and mobile facilities, the transmission of short messages, sending and receiving emails, etc.
ARGOS (the Advanced Research and Global Observation Satellite) is a satellite communication system for data collection and positioning established by France and the United States. The system uses satellites to transmit various environmental monitoring data and locates the carrier of the measuring instrument. It provides an excellent means of communication for hydrological and meteorological monitoring instruments at high latitudes. ARGOS is a typical space IoT system that uses satellite networks to interconnect people, platforms, and sensors. It can quickly, accurately, and extensively collect water temperature and salinity profiles from 0 to 2000 m in the global ocean. It helps to understand the real-time changes of the ocean in a more detailed way, improve the accuracy of climate and ocean forecasting, and effectively defend against the threats posed by the increasingly severe global climate and marine disasters.
Inmarsat Plc and LPWAN equipment manufacturer Actility jointly developed the LoRaWAN-based IoT in January 2017. The LoRaWAN network is the world’s first global IoT network. With a backbone of terrestrial and satellite networks, the Inmarsat LoRaWAN network can deliver on its strategy to bring the IoT to every corner of the globe. At present, its early applications cover asset tracking, agribusiness, and oil and gas.
The US company SpaceX has an ambitious plan Starlink, which aims to launch nearly 12,000 satellites into low orbits for internet coverage. Similarly, a new venture, OneWeb, is proposing a 650 satellite LEO constellation, with significant investments from Virgin Group and Qualcomm. Airbus Defence and Space was recently announced as the manufacturer for these satellites. Facebook and Google already have begun laying plans to serve under-wired markets with drone-based and balloon-based data networks.
The European Space Agency and Airbus Defence and Space are also planning a “Space Data Highway” that features earth observation satellites in geostationary orbit, and a set of LEO satellites to provide a hybrid optical/RF network for Emergency Response, Open Ocean Surveillance, Unmanned Aerial Systems communication, Weather Forecasting and Wide-Area Monitoring on the impacts of human activities on state of natural resources. In March 2021, European satellite and communications startup Hiber BV secured €26 million in EU and private investment to expand its IoT satellite network. The funding comes from the European Innovation Council Fund (EIC Fund), the EU’s innovation agency, which has a €278 million Innovation Fund.
U.S. mobile satellite operator Iridium Communications Inc. said that it is cooperating with leading cloud service provider Amazon to connect its satellite network with Amazon Web Services (AWS) internet-of-things (IoT) services. In 2019, Iridium CloudConnect will become the first and only satellite cloud-based solution that offers truly global coverage for IoT applications through Amazon Web Services (AWS). Iridium CloudConnect will enable a new generation of IoT devices to leverage the Iridium network anywhere in the world.
Iridium CloudConnect will make it easier for doing business by “translating” industry-standard IoT protocols and Iridium Short Burst Data®, allowing them to communicate with one another. This exchange enables any IoT device connected through the Iridium network to speak natively with Amazon’s cloud-based server and its user interfaces.
This solution will allow Iridium customers to create end-to-end data transmission programs for IoT systems hosted on Amazon’s cloud-based server with Lower development and operating costs, Reduced engineering efforts, Faster speeds to market and Upgrades to support for new Iridium protocols, devices, and services.
Iridium said it is the only communications company in the world that has a constellation of 66 crosslinked satellites, which makes global coverage possible. It is pursuing an ambitious 3-billion-U.S.-dollar initiative to replace its entire original satellite constellation with new satellites, known as Iridium NEXT.
Australian nano-satellite communications startup Myriota launched on December 4, 2018, its next-generation technology on SpaceQuest’s BRIO satellite, which will give the company the capability to collect data from many millions of small IoT devices globally, such as sensors and asset trackers. Myriota said the launch “is an important step towards the creation of the world’s first real-time, 24/7 direct-to-orbit IoT platform.”
Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Myriota, Dr. David Haley, said in a news release that the new satellite payload would complement Myriota’s existing satellite constellation while introducing a forward link to terminals, increasing device battery life and improving communication efficiency. “New and existing devices using Myriota technology will benefit, and we’re excited to see the impact across a variety of different sectors,” he said.
China IoT satellite plans
In 2019, A research institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced a constellation program, planning to launch 72 small satellites for the Internet of Things in the next three years. The program will be implemented by Beijing-based private satellite company “Commsat,” which was funded by the Xi’an Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics under the CAS. A total of eight communication satellites of the program were sent into space last year for in-orbit tests. The company plans to complete a global deployment of the constellation of 72 low-earth orbit satellites by the end of 2022.
The project will be made up of 38 LEO satellites, seven of which are already in orbit, and it can provide IoT-related data service, the company said. The project will be incorporated with the 5G system on land and the Beidou Satellite Navigation system to form an ecosystem of IoT satellites. The satellite internet, listed as a category of “new infrastructure” in China alongside 5G, the IoT and artificial intelligence, is expected to see significant growth.
According to Xing Qiang, an expert at Small Rocket Studio, LEO satellites are one of the best solutions for data transmission in remote areas in China, where it is technologically challenging to set up traditional fiber-optic network equipment. “Although most cities have access to fiber-optic network equipment, around 70 percent of the nation’s land, mostly unpopulated, still has no access to networks,” Xing said.
A series of seven small satellites, called the “ladybeetle series,” expected to serve for wildlife protection, field emergency rescue, vehicle and ship monitoring and logistics tracing. “We expect that IOT will mushroom in 2020, with about 20 billion terminals being connected to it. However, only 10 percent of our globe is covered by the ground network, and many things, such as ships, pipelines and wildlife, are scattered across vast areas without the network.”
The ladybeetle series will be used to test a closed-loop system for the Internet of Things (IOT), which includes satellites, cloud computing platforms, ground control stations and terminals, said Peng Yuanyuan, co-founder and chief operating officer of Commsat. ORBCOMM partner Asia Pacific Navigation Telecommunications Satellite to cooperate with a Chinese telecommunications operator to provide service. A China Gateway Earth Station (GES) is planned for construction to serve as a network link between the ORBCOMM satellite system and its worldwide infrastructure.
Compared with traditional internet access based on base stations, satellite internet systems offer high data speed, and can cover a wide area regardless of terrestrial conditions, according to Xing. In mountainous regions, much information on the local environment needs to be collected manually, and satellite internet is one of the more cost-efficient ways of providing internet access to remote areas, according to Xing.
According to Lü Qiang, chairman of Beijing Guodian High-tech, the company is planning a system that can mobilize the IoT satellites, remote sensing technology and 5G, which will be able to monitor the environment and give warnings ahead of natural disasters
Russia plan Marathon IoT Satellite system
Roscosmos, or Russia’s state space corporation, has planned to venture into the Internet of things (IoT) with the launch of a new satellite system named ‘Marathon’. A report released by the Moscow-based space agency on Sunday stated that the new satellite system will be a part of Russia’s Sphere satellite constellation, which will be fully established by 2026.
The federation’s GLONASS navigation, a satellite communication system and a data relay satellite set-up will be the other equipment in the constellation. The number of satellites in the Marathon system have not been revealed yet. Andrei Ionin, Russian Academy of Cosmonautics’ Corresponding Member told Sputnik, “There are several segments of the satellite communication.”
“While [USA’s] Iridium has been long operating successfully on the voice satellite communications market. [USA’s] OneWeb and Starlink will dominate the broadband Internet segment,” he said.
“The Internet of things is the third segment. [Work in] this segment will be successful if services are provided at the lowest prices, as the systems that I have mentioned will provide such services as well,” Ionin underscored. Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the Sphere constellation project, which involves the construction and deployment of 640 satellites.
Market Growth of IoT Satellite Systems
The global IoT market is expected to reach a value of USD 1,386.06 billion by 2026 from USD 761.4 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 10.53%, during the period 2021-2026. The increasing need for data analysis and integration of analytics is expected to propel the utilization of the Internet of Things market.
The global market for IoT-focused satellite services, focused on end-device connectivity hardware and the annual connectivity fees charged, is forecasted to grow to US$ 5.9 Bil. in 2025, after taking off in the 2021-2022 period. This implies a massive tripling or quadrupling of satellite IoT/M2M devices and applications in the next 5 years. By 2025, some 30.3mn Satellite IoT devices are expected to be deployed globally, growing at a CAGR of just under 40%. It is clear that satellite IoT will bring a massive change over the coming years to the world in general, the IOT industry and to the satellite industry in particular.
Additionally, rise in adoption of satellite IoT among various sectors such as oil & gas, and agriculture, to increase connectivity is projected to boost the demand for satellite IoT across the globe. Rising demand to fill the gap in tracking issues related to pipeline leakages is also expected to propel the satellite IoT market during the forecast period. Increase in adoption of smart technologies, and applications such as autonomous vehicles and autonomous vessels is anticipated to boost the market.
At present, various sectors are focused on wireless technologies, and on increasing productivity and reducing losses which is expected to create new opportunities for the satellite IoT market during the forecast period. However, technology fragmentation and strong competition from terrestrial infrastructure is the major factor projected to hinder the global satellite IoT market in the next few years.
Traditional Mobile Sat Systems (MSS) like Inmarsat, Thuraya, Iridium, Globalstar have been dominant in the M2M/IoT market, using their L-band spectrum with a focus on mobile and maritime applications. In the last 10 years they realised 3.5 – 4 million satellite IoT terminals in the field.
Fixed Sat Systems (FSS) like Eutelsat, Intelsat or Asiasat have developed M2M and IoT services over using Ku or Ka band over the past years as well. Examples are the Ka-sat based Telemetry service from TooWay/Eutelsat, and the recent development of the ASAT-8200 unit by Spacebridge. With their higher bandwidths they are very well suited for Satellite IoT and in particular for backhaul services connecting terrestrial local area IoT networks (eg. NB-IoT, Lora, Wifi, BT) from high density sensor networks to the internet.
For the NewSpace industry, and the dozen nano satellite IoT startups, the satellite IoT market is a hugely lucrative opportunity as they don’t have to take on anywhere near the level of capex burden that the incumbent satellite network operators have been saddled with. New satellite players take advantage of the new cubesat technology (using a range of UHF, VHF, S-band, and Ku-band services) to bring down their service costs, while the Low Earth Orbit allows the use of low power modems to connect the ground sensors.
NewSpace companies active in this market include Astrocast, Myrioata, Lacuna, Kineis, Kepler Communications, Swarm technologies and Hiber. Their service features, low cost, low power, low latency, makes them well suited for Direct-To-Satellite services for terminals that are spread widely over geographic areas.
At least 18 “New Space” start-ups jumping into the Internet of Things (IoT) market, and over 1,600 satellites dedicated to IoT applications are predicted to fill the skies in the next 5 years. Some of the satellite #IoT newcomers are Aerial & Maritime, AisTech, Analytical Space, Astrocast, Blink Astro, exactEarth, Fleet Space Technologies, Helios Wire, Hiber Global, Hongyan, Karten Space, Kepler Communications, Lacuna Space, Myriota, Sky and Space Global (SAS), Spire Global, Swarm, and Xingyun are among the declared entrants.
The newest of the new are building satellite systems using IoT open standards, testing and demonstrating the ability to pick up LoRa and cellular signals directly from orbit. These Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites’ attitude can range from 200 miles to 1,000 miles above the earth. Lacuna Space is using a modified version of the LoRaWAN protocol to communicate with thousands of devices and plans to have five satellites in orbit by the end of the year. Lynk has shown it can pick up and deliver SMS text messages via satellite using 2G GSM. It plans to support LTE and NB-IoT in the future while OQ Technology conducted a technical demonstration between a satellite and an NB-IoT device on the ground last year.
There’s also a lot of experimentation among newer startups to provide differentiation. Helios Wire plans to layer blockchain on top of its IoT network to support smart contracts. Analytical Space and Kepler Communications will use lasers and crosslinks to more quickly move data.
The increasing need for mobile connectivity in remote areas and isolated terrains increases the demand for satellite-enabled IoT tools such as GPS systems, tracking devices, health and personnel monitoring devices, just-in-time equipment maintenance, and IoT technologies to support tactical reconnaissance and enhance mission reliability and security.
The development of quantum Internet is one of the key factors triggering the growth of the market. The strategies on the implementation of IoT in satellite applications have initiated several advances in the development of secure communication networks. A team of researchers have directed their efforts to develop a first-of-its-kind orbit technology for satellite-based quantum network nodes.
The key players in IoT Satellite market are Eutelsat, Inmarsat, MDA Information Systems, Northrop Grumman, SES, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, Thales Alenia Space, Thuraya, NanoAvionics and Kepler Communications.
OQ Technology, a Luxembourg-based satellite 5G IoT company, and GovSat, a public-private joint venture between the Luxembourg government and satellite operator SES, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Sep 2021 to collaborate on developing and testing satellite-based IoT (Internet of things) and machine-to-machine (M2M) products aimed at defence and government sectors.
By combining OQ Technology’s 5G products and services with GovSat’s end-to-end satcom solutions, already supporting customers such as NATO, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Belgium Navy, the companies aim to offer highly scalable applications for air, land and maritime missions across the world. Customers of these future applications will benefit from access to real-time 5G IoT coverage, dedicated geostationary (GEO) capabilities, specialized frequencies and licenses, and a wider footprint of multiple beams
Under the agreement, OQ Technology will provide user terminals, satellite hub equipment and remote management capabilities. The company will also re-design its satellite IoT user terminal to fit the GovSat frequency band, and it’ll upgrade the antenna of its user terminal. In return, GovSat will give OQ Technology access to its satellite capacity, operate the satellite hub infrastructure and provide uplink services.
GovSat’s coverage is critical for government customers and NATO operations. Its reach spreads Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South West Asia with maritime coverage for the Atlantic, Baltic, Mediterranean and Indian Oceans. Their high-powered fully-steerable spot beams in X- and Mil Ka-Band, and a global X-Band beam, in addition to a secure service hub, assure secure operations and resilient satcom capabilities.
Since its successful demonstration of the technology in 2019, OQ Technology has been working on its patent pending technology to provide global 5G IoT coverage, initially using a low earth orbit nanosatellites constellation. Following the launch of its Tiger-2 satellite onboard the SpaceX Transporter-2 mission in July, the company is now offering commercial 5G IoT services for a variety of IoT applications for environmental monitoring and agriculture, logistics, maritime, smart metering, mining and oil & gas.