Satellite connectivity bridges gap to underserved IoT markets




With an estimated 75 billion IoT devices predicted to be online by 2025, Statista predicts that a good portion will be in areas that lack a standard connection. Moreover, a significant fraction of massive IoT use cases will require a global reach in industries like logistics, maritime, fleet management, energy or environment monitoring.

According to GSMA’s 2020 Mobile Economy report, mobile broadband coverage has helped close the connectivity gap to an additional 1 billion people in the last six years. Yet there are still many challenges that remain in bringing affordable access connectivity to rural communities.

The recently developed IoT market is also facing the challenge to deliver the necessary radio coverage to wide-reach IoT applications like asset tracking or fleet management; connected objects have more chance to be deployed in remote areas than mobile broadband, which is focusing on where people are and 80% of the world population lives in urban areas.

Despite the massive roll-out of LoRaWAN® IoT terrestrial private and public networks in more than 160 countries, many regions remain unconnected and LoRaWAN network service providers have low or no economic return to invest in these remote areas.

The satellite, running on LoRaWAN, also features Semtech’s Long Range Frequency Hoping Spread Spectrum new data rate (LR-FHSS), which was endorsed by the LoRa Alliance at end of 2020, offering a unique opportunity for terrestrial and satellite LoRaWAN Networks to collaborate in bringing ubiquitous coverage.

Here are the top four benefits of LoRaWAN satellite connectivity: 

Interoperability

With the rising demand for universal IoT connectivity, having proven wireless technology work interoperability with satellites helps to better address IoT use cases needs and offers the global reach when needed. The collaboration between LoRa® devices and LoRaWAN satellite communication networks enables direct communications to satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

LR-FHSS, which features connectivity through LoRaWAN, also runs on ISM (Industrial Scientific and Medical) frequency bands. The collaboration of all types of LoRaWAN networks: satellite, terrestrial (private and public) through roaming, open up the expansion of in use cases such as logistics, maritime, agriculture, ground transportation, environment and energy.

Additionally, the LR-FHSS, running on LoRaWAN, was designed ground-up to meet high traffic capacity for Long Range communications (LEO satellites flying between 200 and 500 kms away from the Earth).

Finally, LR-FHSS enables satellite companies to leverage an existing LoRaWAN device ecosystem able to seamlessly connect both terrestrial and satellite LoRaWAN Networks.

Access

Satellite connectivity delivers access to more places than nearly any other type of service. This means users in geographically remote environments that never had availability to connect IoT devices to the internet in a cost-efficient way, can now take advantage of solutions that cover multiple applications like smart village to smart farming.

Due to its low power and long range, LoRa devices can access challenging or harsh environments and enable connectivity where it will not be cost efficient or even possible to go on the field and change batteries at any time during device lifetime expectancy.

Cost Savings

Leveraging the already existing large and mature LoRaWAN ecosystem by using the same LoRa devices (except firmware update and antenna design) and land-based gateway-station (GTW) hardware infrastructure is a strong driver for scaling the adoption of IoT. Thus, it has a positive impact on the total cost of owner for end users.

In the last 3-5 years, the dramatic decrease of satellite constellation payloads and launch costs enabled a fast growing satellite massive IoT ecosystem that left many satellite operators able to adopt LoRaWAN LR-FHSS and join a strong ecosystem. This left a positive impact on constellation deployment cost and performance, specifically end device very low power consumption.

Localeconomic and social development

In a world where practically everything is connected to the internet, maintaining a high level of cost effective easy to deploy connectivity is key for the development of local economies and communities. The combination of terrestrial long range, low power solutions and satellite connectivity offers users always-possible connectivity. This available connectivity is possible now that user modems are being integrated into IoT devices and smart sensors communicate with satellites that enable reliable data transfer to suburban, rural and remote areas.

While there has been much progress in closing the global connectivity gap, there is still much work to be done to bring access to the 750 million people who still live without it. Satellite technology will be game changing for applications on land, at sea or in the sky as well as reinforce the opportunity to develop local communities across the world. This technology will also be another step towards a more sustainable planet.


Remi Lorrain, LoRaWAN Network Director at Semtech, enables LoRaWAN operator footprint expansion across geographies while supporting business increase. For the LoRa Alliance, Remi drives operator-focused projects, as co-chair of 5G work group and sponsor for Wireless Broadband Alliance Liaison. Remi has been taking for more than 20 years, management and executive positions in Mobile and Fixed Operators as well as software companies. Remi received an engineering degree from Telecom Paris Tech and a master of computer science from Paris Orsay university.

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Original article: Satellite connectivity bridges gap to underserved IoT markets
Author: Remi Lorrain