Menu

M2M FEATURE NEWS

Satellite NB-IoT: Connectivity Everywhere

By Special Guest
Paddy McWilliams, Director of Product Marketing, Connectivity Business Unit, CEVA
August 07, 2020

Despite a few high-profile efforts from the hyperscalars, “Internet everywhere” remains a stretch goal. Still, how pressing is an immediate need for a multi-player gaming experience while sailing solo across the Atlantic, hiking the Australian outback or in rail freight across the plains of Rajasthan? There’s a lot of useful value to be had in these remote locations through more basic narrow-band connectivity. For asset tracking in containers which may be at sea, on a long-haul train, for fishing vessels, farmers or utility operators, the most obvious way to provide broad coverage is through satellite networks, and very good way to handle low bandwidth traffic is through NB-IoT.

Satellite NB-IoT is coming fast

Satellite-based NB-IoT is already well beyond a concept. Skylo Technologies for example have demonstrated NB-IoT proof of concept systems based on existing geostationary satellites. No enhancement is required to the satellites themselves (naturally). According to the CEO, these act simply as a mirror, connecting to small earth-bound hubs. Skylo claims this solution costs only 5% of what other options will demand, the hubs themselves costing less than $100 a piece, making this truly accessible to everyone. Skylo has over $100M funding from the SoftBank group and is already in partnership with the Indian telecoms company BSNL.

Sateliot is working with the Gatehouse group with a different approach. They plan to deploy a constellation of small satellites which will act as base stations, in low orbit around the globe. Meanwhile OQ Technology has run trials on low-earth orbit satellites and is planning services ranging from third-party satellites offering their SDR-based service to a constellation of their own satellites. OQ Tech said they have already worked through the Doppler and range issues unique to non-stationary satellites. In the US, Ligado Networks has plans to build a satellite network, supporting this technology. There are also hints from China, who launched two IoT satellites in May, as a start to building a larger constellation over the next 2-3 years. This is a very active field, already past proof of concept, now moving into building actual networks.

The need for software flexibility

That said, the current 3GPP standard doesn’t fully support non-terrestrial technology. What these companies have done has worked around those limitations. 3GPP is now working on Release 17 to better support the non-terrestrial use-model. Which raises an obvious question: can such a change be supported through a fully SDM (software defined modem) implementation? If it can’t, pilot deployments are going to have a problem, especially if depending on hardware embedded in an already-launched satellite.

There’s another important consideration. While you need to exchange data with your IoT device, often you also need to know where it is. Consider an asset tracker, on a container, on an ocean-bound carrier. That device should provide GNSS support, the global version of GPS, which ideally should fit onto the same platform, adding little additional cost.

This is a very exciting new market opportunity, an opportunity in the middle of rapid evolution. Some of this evolution will impact not only the satellites but also ground-based implementations.




Edited by Ken Briodagh


SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Kerlink and Radio Bridge Offer LoRaWAN Solution for Private IoT Networks

By: Ken Briodagh    9/16/2020

Kerlink and Radio Bridge reportedly are integrating their technologies to offer enterprise customers a single solution for designing, deploying, provi…

Read More

Brave New World: Connected Field Service Technologies Fusion Leveraging IoT

By: Arti Loftus    9/16/2020

Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact (TEI) study and examine the potential return on investment (ROI) enterp…

Read More

MultiTech Receives 2020 IoT Evolution Product of the Year Award

By: Chrissie Cluney    9/14/2020

The MultiTech MultiConnect microCell LTE USB Cellular Modem (MTCM2 Series has received the 2020 IoT Evolution Product of the Year Award from IoT Evolu…

Read More

New Survey Shows that Business is Committed to LTE for WAN

By: Ken Briodagh    9/8/2020

New report indicates that 78 percent of companies now use or plan to use LTE for WAN or internet connectivity and 82 percent believe 5G will deliver i…

Read More

Verizon Completes Fully Virtualized 5G Data Session in the World

By: Ken Briodagh    9/8/2020

Verizon says it is the first in the world to successfully complete an end-to-end (from the core of the network to the far edge) virtualized 5G data se…

Read More