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Satellite Communication for IoT Networks – Emerging Trends

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The satellite IoT industry is undergoing a transformation with the emergence of NewSpace and the rising demand for global IoT connectivity. Exploration of innovative satellite solutions, adoption of robust and dynamic business models, and a growing shift in investments and research from public to private organizations are fast emerging as the key trends in the satellite IoT ecosystem.

Demand of IoT end-device connectivity is driving the need for innovative communication techniques. In addition to the terrestrial infrastructure, satellite communication appears set to play a key role in supporting IoT applications in diverse areas, including mining locations, deep sea, and remote sites where cellular connectivity is unavailable.

This report includes an overview of the emerging trends in satellite communication for IoT applications, highlighting the interest around the exploration of new orbits, development of nanosatellites, and impact of blockchain, AI and 5G for a connected satellite environment.

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Satellite Communication for IoT Networks – Emerging Trends

  1. 1. Satellite Communication for IoT Networks Overview of the Emerging Trends
  2. 2. Contents Introduction Need for Satellite Communication in the IoT Ecosystem IoT Applications Using Satellite Communication Trends in Satellite IoT Communication Exploration of New Orbits for IoT Applications Table of Comparison How GEO Satellites are Enabling IoT Applications? How LEO Satellites are Addressing the Requirements of the IoT market? Integration of Satellite and 5G Networks for Connected Environments Blockchain and Quantum Communication Providing Secure Satellite IoT Operations Machine Learning Building Intelligent Satellite Networks Evolutionary Antenna Technologies Enabling Satellite-IoT Device Communication Mining Maritime Asset Tracking Other Applications Impact of Emerging Technologies on the Satellite IoT Ecosystem 4 5 7 7 8 8 9 Transformation in the Satellite Industry for IoT Market 10 11 12 13 13 14 15 15 16 16 17
  3. 3. Satellite Companies Targeting IoT Market Traditional Satellite Providers Inmarsat Iridium Communications Intelsat Globalstar Orbcomm Other Key Companies Satellite IoT Startups Funding Graph Emerging Companies Providing LEO Nanosatellites Other Innovative Startups in the Domain Amazon Entering the Satellite Industry Insights & Recommendations Key Deductions Opportunities for Other Non-Space Companies Automotive Industry: Utilizing LEO Satellite Solutions Mobile Operators and Telecom Companies: Expanding IoT Portfolios Cloud Providers and IT Companies: Delivering Innovative Infrastructure 18 19 19 19 19 20 20 20 21 21 23 27 27 28 29 31 31 32 32 32 References 33
  4. 4. Introduction The IoT landscape is continuously evolving. With both individual consumers and organizations recognizing the value of Machine to Machine (M2M) communications and the need for interconnectivity across levels, there is a rising demand for increased connectivity. Terrestrial networks are currently addressing these infrastructure requirements. Growing demand for IoT solutions calls for satellite connectivity to reach the areas underserved by the terrestrial-based IoT systems. While satellite communication has been attempting to replace terrestrial networks for use cases involving broadcasting, voice, and data at a commercial level, earlier attempts from companies such as Iridium, Globalstar, and Teledisc have been unsuccessful, leading to bankruptcies. Bulky handsets, weak signals, and omnidirectional solutions have restricted the adoption of satellite communication on a large scale. However, its adoption in IoT is transforming the scenario. Globalstar and Iridium have managed to become profitable with their LEO constellations, and are now trying to address the demands of the IoT applications market. Other companies are also launching their satellites (mostly, in non-synchronous orbits) to improve global internet connectivity, several of which are specifically designated for IoT.1 The future of IoT lies in the state of innovations and developments that are happening in the satellite industry, with the advantages of space-based IoT looking set to define the nature of interconnectedness for next generation societies.
  5. 5. Need for Satellite Communication in the IoT Ecosystem Global coverage High Throughput High Range Bi- Directional Communication Real-time Communication Low Cost Connectivity Low Power Consumption Secure Communication High Mobility Requirements in Connectivity for IoT Network The IoT market is exploring different wireless connectivity solutions to tap the full potential of interconnected devices, with global connectivity being the primary driver for a successful network. Different IoT use cases and solutions have different connectivity requirements. How weleverage satellite and terrestrial networks for IoT applications, therefore, depends on the technical advantages and limitations of these communication systems. For instance, latency is a major source of difference between satellite and cellular connectivity. Currently, terrestrial services (cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRA or Sigfox) are driving IoT deployments. Cellular networks have emerged as being especially suitable for applications where real time connection and speed is important. The wider coverage of satellite solutions, however, has been a key enabler for the extension of IoT services in remote areas where cellular connectivity is unavailable. This is critical for applications such as smart farming, deep-water applications, mission critical services, oil and gas, mining, and transportation – where round the clock network coverage is crucial. Connectivity Requirement for IoT Network 5
  6. 6. Cellular networks cover only 10% of the world at present, while the remaining 90% are facing connectivity gaps. Satellites can help bridge this gap by providing coverage for even the most remote areas. The pervasive nature of satellite communications, combined with other advantages including wide coverage and high availability, is garnering interest in the IoT segment. In the near term, satellite will become a key technology for IoT providers to deliver and advance improved IoT application. Satellites are the only solution for com- plementing terrestrial capabilities for the future IoT market. The complementarities of satellite and terrestrial communication is therefore driving the exploration of hybrid configurations for enabling IoT applications. Wi-Fi Bluetooth ZigBee Satellite Cellular 4G Cellular 2G/3G Cat-M1 (LTE-M) Cat-NB1 (LNB IoT) Cellular 5G Range and Throughput of Wireless Technologies (Source: Hewlett Packard Enterprise (2016) 2) 6 10 m 100 m 1 Km 10 Km 100 Km 1,000 Km Range 10 Gbps 1 Gbps 100 Mbps 10 Mbps 1 Mbp 100 Kbps 10 Kbps Throughput
  7. 7. 7 Trends in Satellite IoT Communication
  8. 8. Exploration of New Orbits for IoT Applications MEO 200 - 34000 Km GEO ~36000 Km LEO 160 - 2000 Km Lower Launch Cost Path Loss > LEO Constant View The three primary orbits available for satellites are low earth orbit (LEO), medium earth orbit (MEO), and geostationary earth orbit (GEO). These orbits are defined on their distance from the surface of the earth. Satellites are grouped according to either their application, or the orbit that they follow. Satellites in higher orbits move at a slower speed than the ones in the lower orbits. Also, the GEO satellites are larger, heavier and costlier than the smaller counterparts. Types of Satellite Orbits 8
  9. 9. Table of Comparison Parameters LEO Satellites GEO Satellites Weight Size Distance from Earth Orbital Period Satellite Life Number of handoffs Path Loss Cost Coverage Latency <10 kg < 10,000 kg Nanosatellites Traditional satellites 500-1500 km ~36,000 km 10-40 minutes (orbit the earth multiple times in a day) 24 hours Short Long High Low Low High Low Low Low Latency High High High The selection of satellite orbit depends on the requirements of the IoT application. GEO satellites appear to be stationary when seen from a fixed point on earth. These satellites are placed approximately 36,000 kilometers from the earth’s surface. They are mostly used for imagery, direct to home broadcasts, and internet connectivity. Several companies are ................. all through conventional GEO satellites.4 IoT applications require low cost, low power, and small size terminals that can effectively perform the task of signal transfer with minimum loss. The path loss between GEO satellites and Earth, however, limits their use for most of the IoT applications. To avoid this, .......... ................................................................................................... number of satellites can be operated in the GEO orbit. Owing to these limitations of GEO satellites, most of the emerging entities, as well the core companies are planning to develop LEO satellite constellations to better meet the IoT demands.5 Applications that do ..................... as as they provide more coverage in such situations when How GEO Satellites are Enabling IoT Applications? 99
  10. 10. LEO satellites are deployed closer to the earth’s surface and are much smaller than the GEO satellites. Communication enabled by LEO .............................................................. ......................................................................................................... .................................. antennas with designs optimized for specific use cases. LEO satellites put forward a significant case for IoT connectivity requirements, however, ............................................. ............... of both for providing seamless connectivity. Apart from the advantages of low manufacturing cost of the LEO IoT satellites, there are few other complexities associated with these satellites. There is a need for developing techniques to manage ................... ........................................................................................... of LEO satellites in orbit. Antenna technologies and increased number of ground gateways will be required for the LEO ecosystem, adding to the overall cost. compared to LEO satellites that are continuously moving. Another way of using GEO satellites is to follow the hybrid approach, where terrestrial networks can do data collection andsatellites serve as the backhaul. Multi-orbit configurations are also being the earth’s surface. They are mostly deployed to ..................................................... .......................................................................... the constellations (LEO/GEO satellites) would still need to be addressed. How LEO Satellites are Addressing the Requirements of the IoT market? 10
  11. 11. Impact of Emerging Technologies on the Satellite IoT Ecosystem Integration of Satellite and 5G Networks for Connected Environments The use of 5G network in the implementation of a hybrid configuration (5G/satellite) can provide access in underserved areas. Telecom companies are working in collaboration with satellite companies, standard development organizations like 3GPP, and government bodies like ESA to implement necessary adaptations in a 5G hybrid network including modulation techniques, forward error correction, multi access schemes, and interference management techniques.6 3GPP’s Release 16 Technical Specification Group TR 22.822 defines a study for satellite access in 5G and IoT environments. The Shared Access Terrestrial-Satellite Backhaul Enabled by Smart Antenna (SANSA) project (2015 to 2018) by the European Commission aimed at boosting mobile wireless backhaul to overcome the potential problems 5G traffic will pose.7 Overall, the integration of satellite and terrestrial serves two purposes for a telecom company, viz. They can use satellite backhaul services for 5G solutions: Although, satellite communication cannot replace the existing terrestrial and mobile communication infrastructure, it can act as a redundancy. Many MNOs are starting to see the importance of dual-mode connectivity where satellite comes into play in locations with shaky or no terrestrial connectivity. Some MNOs are also testing efficient satellite backhaul services for 5G solutions. Vodafone, Telesat, and the University of Surrey have successfully demonstrated LEO satellite backhaul for 5G applications like video chatting, web browsing, and streaming of 8K video with latency of around 18-40 milliseconds.8 Furthermore, satellite companies such as Gilat and LeoSat have also launched a 5G-ready satellite backhaul. IoT connectivity technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRaWan, LPWAN, and others offer low-power operation but are not seamless and interoperable. This fragmentation of communication technologies hinders the growth of always-on connectivity – the cornerstone of IoT applications. 5G network is an upgrade that addresses this gap, and looks capable of facilitating seamless M2M communications in addition to traditional person-to-person connectivity. These networks can also potentially overcome various other challenges in the interconnected world of tomorrow. MNOs are exploring IoT use cases based on 5G connectivity with LEO satellites for enhancing the reliability of communication and increasing their network reach. 11
  12. 12. Blockchain and Quantum Communication Providing Secure Satellite IoT Operations 12 HeliosWire, a Canadian ............................................................................................... system is built on a satel- lite connectivity infrastructure that offers ............................. using S-band spectrum (30 MHz). The company’s LEO satellite constellation works in combination with the existing terres- trial networks including LPWAN and LoRa, allowing actionable insights as a service. Industry focus includes transportation, consumer, logistics, security/public safety, energy, mining, industrial/construction, agriculture, and animal management.10 ................................................................................ on the existing satellite and terrestrial-based solutions.12 The company plans to reduce latency that is currently in the range of 1-5 hours to as low as 15 minutes. This will also allow the company to expand its services into new verticals. Furthermore, as an early adopter of blockchain in space-IoT applications, ...................................... will add value to business use cases. Another startup, QSAT™ or QubitSat™, a division of Stealth Grid Ltd., is providing blockchain satellite technology integrated ................... . The QSAT™ ecosystem includes proprietary ................................................................................ The application areas of focus include smart cities, autonomous cars, and M2M/IoT. The company is also setting a stage for next generation 5G backhaul technologies.14 The incorporation of intelligent solutions in the satellite market is an advancement for meeting the dynamic requirements of IoT applications. Such techniques can address the challenges of the satellite industry especially in multi-satellite environment. Exploration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms for the satellite industry can bring maximized efficiency. Apart from the use of ML models on the ground level related to analytics-based insight for the end applications, these models are critical for improving the functions in the deep space environment as well. Some of these use cases include: Neural networks can be applied to determine ...................... provide higher reliability and improve the quality of service.15 Deep learning techniques for ........................ ................................. can be leveraged for ensuring the exact position of any satellite.17 Machine Learning Building Intelligent Satellite Networks Fault prediction technologies leveraging ML techniques are useful in dealing with uncertainties and optimizing the operation next time.18 AI algorithms for ....................... bring automation in the control operations in the orbit.19 Deep reinforcement learning techniques for .................................................................... and improve performance in the long term.20
  13. 13. 13 Evolutionary Antenna Technologies Enabling Satellite-IoT Device Communication The user terminal or the user end of the satellite ecosystem needs antennas that can support both satellite as well as terrestrial communication. Electronically steerable antennas (ESAs) including phased array antennas and metamaterial-based antennas are gaining importance owing to their fast dynamic speed, low cost, modular designs, fine steering resolution, and more importantly the ability to repoint almost instantaneously for tracking moving LEO satellites. Additionally, ......................................................... .............................................................................. mmwave spectrums are already preparing for the future of interconnected world of tomorrow. Currently, the price of these antennas is ........................................................................... accelerated adoption in diverse IoT use cases. Satellite operators can collaborate with companies that are .................................................................... With such partnerships, they can expand into ...................................................................................................... with a better visibility on the lifecycle of a product or service. Furthermore, chemical companies or the material suppliers can offer the antenna companies their expertise in ............................................ challenges associated with steering range of the hybrid antennas. Companies Providing Technologies for Seamless Switching Between Terrestrial and Satellite Networks
  14. 14. 14 Satellite Companies Targeting IoT Market
  15. 15. Traditional Satellite Providers Inmarsat Inmarsat is a leading satellite communication company that operates a series of GEO satellites in the L-, Ka- and S- bands for IoT services. The company is set to launch the next generation Inmarsat 6 (I-6) and Global Xpress satellites in 2020 and 2023, respectively. The I-6 fleet features Ka-band payloads and can support 5G applications. The Global Xpress satellites are software-defined satellites with dynamic beamforming capabilities for the creation of thousands of independent beams for boosting performance. This series is going to be backward compatible with Inmarsat’s existing fleet that ensures redundancy. Inmarsat’s satellites are manufactured by Airbus and the company is working with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the satellite launchers.21 Although, Inmarsat operates GEO satellites, it has collaborated with Orbcomm that provide LEO constellation for M2M solutions.22 23 Additionally, Inmarsat’s agreement with satellite terminal provider Addvalue is focused on the development of constellation of Inter-Satellite Data Relay System (IDRS™) for continuous LEO satellite connectivity.24 Microsoft is also a key partner of Inmarsat for delivering cloud services via satellite communication for industrial IoT solutions. Iridium Communications is using its constellation of 66 cross-linked LEO satellite for building an IoT network. In partnership with Amazon Web Services, Iridium is offering CloudConnect solutions, where IoT devices connected with Iridium network can communicate with Amazon’s cloud server natively. The company’s Iridium Edge®, satellite IoT communications device allows easy IoT deployment and complements terrestrial-based solutions for global connectivity. Iridium Edge® is a cost-effective satellite IoT communications device that can be rapidly deployed and complements terrestrial-based solutions to create worldwide connectivity.25 Iridium is also partnering with startups such as Hiber to complement its IoT services. Intelsat Intelsat’s Global EPICNG Network is a constellation of six high throughput satellites (HTS) that enables interconnectivity between C-, Ku- and Ka-bands. The EPICNG platform provides features such as wide beam, spot beams, frequency reuse for efficient use if spectrum, interoperability and open architecture.26 The application areas of focus include maritime, aerospace, aquaculture, etc.27 The platform offers backward compatibility with the company’s existing space fleets and global IntelsatOne® terrestrial network. The company has collaborated with OneWeb for hybrid LEO/GEO services and is also focusing on Ku-band ecosystem for low-latency, hybrid services. Furthermore, Intelsat has partnered with electronically steerable antenna (ESA) makers such as Phasor and Kymeta for various IoT applications. The company has launched Mobile Reach Manage for helping MNOs with fully managed cellular backhaul for 2G/3G/4G. The next- generation of Intelsat’s EPICNG platform is expected to be software-defined to provide reduced time to market that will also be an important driving factor of 5G deployments.28 Iridium Communications 15
  16. 16. Satellite IoT Startups Vector Commsat Kepler Communications Accion Systems Myriota Hiber SAS Open Cosmos HeliosWire Astrocast Analytical Space Fleet Space 0 120100 102.8 30.4 21.1 15.5 15 14.5 12 7 6 4.17 4 3.4 20 40 60 80 Total Funding (USD Mn) Funding Graph Innovators in the Newspace domain are attracting investors for driving growth in .................................................................................................................................................................................................... demand for small satellites is growing with a considerable need for reducing the time to space (within weeks). As a result, launching platform providers such as ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... to build a sustainable roadmap. Furthermore, the frontrunner in Chinese Newspace market, Commsat is second on the list of highly funded companies. Other innovators that are planning to build massive LEO constellations (Kepler Communications, Myriota, and SAS), developing disruptive turn-key services ............................................................................................... companies with maximum funding raised. 16
  17. 17. Nanosatellite Startups Antenna Developers Other Innovative Companies 17
  18. 18. 18 Company Overview Future Focus Currently, Myriota’s solutions typically take between one and two hours for the overall process from collection of messages to transfer to the cloud and distribution.37 As a step towards this goal, Myriota has plans to launch around 50 nanosatellites in the next five years in partnership with Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, a company that designs and builds custom nanosatellite solutions.38 Leveraging its global network of LEO satellite constellation, modules, and developer tools, Myriota caters to several IoT use cases.34 Agriculture is the primary focus, followed by utilities metering, asset tracking, environmental monitoring, defense, and logistics.35 Myriota’s modules are based on a patented low-power, low-cost technology that allows bidirectional data transfer directly from and to the cloud via nanosatellites. This means IoT devices can directly communicate with the LEO satellites, eliminating the need for an aggregator or base stations on the ground. Myriota has a portfolio of more than 20 patents covering aspects ranging from core signal processing algorithms to system components and top-level architectures.36 Founded: 2015 HQ: Adelaide, Australia Aistech is a space big data company that is aiming to democratize space technologies leveraging its nanosatellite constellation. The areas of focus include remote asset management, earth observation, aviation tracking, surveillance, etc.39 Aistech plans to develop a constellation of around 150 nanosatellites till 2022. Its DANU constellation is mainly focused on providing connectivity to M2M/IoT applications. The first 10 nanosatellites of the DANU constellation are expected to be launched in the third quarter of 2019.40 The company has partnered with Gomscope for realizing this goal.41 SAS offers affordable communication using innovative nanosatellite designs and proprietary software solutions that enable autonomous deployment, orbit control, and communication between satellites. The company has already launched three satellites as a proof of concept and claims to be one of the first movers in the B2B telecom networks that use nanosatellites. SAS is primarily focused on providing reliable and affordable connectivity to underserved equatorial and tropical regions. It can provide narrowband connectivity services for applications ranging from telecom, M2M/IoT, and asset tracking.42 SAS has a 2020 vision to develop The Pearls Constellation with approximately 200 satellites providing narrowband connectivity initially in the equatorial/tropical regions and later scaling it up to the global level. The company has plans to launch the initial batch of 16 satellites in mid-2019. It has partnered with Gomscope for the construction of nanosatellites, and with Virgin Orbits to launch them. SAS plans to make IoT services available around the clock every 15 minutes, making them a reliable IoT service provider with optimum reduction in latency. Founded: 2015 HQ: London, UK Emerging Companies Providing LEO Nanosatellites Founded: 2015 HQ: Barcelona, Spain
  19. 19. 19 Insights & Recommendations
  20. 20. 20 Automotive Industry: Utilizing LEO Satellite Solutions Opportunities for Other Non-Space Companies Always available connectivity is a central requirement for the autonomous vehicles market and a hybrid satellite and terrestrial network can help meet this. Further, with .................................................................................................................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................................................. for autonomous vehicle applications. Automakers could consider .............................................................................................................................................. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... The company has developed intelligent antenna modules, .................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................. software solutions to detect and prevent cyberattacks, a major concern in hybrid networks. The company is working in .................................................................................................................................... between satellite and terrestrial networks and address a growing demand for over the air updates. 63 64 The automotive manufacturers also have the option to collaborate with ............................. ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................... electronically steered antenna solution that can communicate ................................................... the automotive sector. The company’s multiple demonstrations with Toyota highlight an accelerated interest among automakers for adopting new satellite technologies. Rolls Royce Marine and .......................................................................................................................................................... ...............................................................................................................................................................................................65
  21. 21. 21 References
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