Five bucks a month to connect your device to satellite IoT,

Five bucks a month to connect your device to satellite IoT, says Swarm

09 February 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

Micro-satellite company Swarm says it will charge as little as US$5 a month to connect each device to the internet.

The California-based company announced this morning that it is starting commercial services using its fleet of satellites, each of which it says is “the size of a grilled cheese sandwich”.

Sara Spangelo (pictured, right), CEO and co-founder, said: “Now that the Swarm network is commercially available, we are thrilled to begin providing affordable global IoT connectivity to even more customers around the world.”

The company had 36 satellites on the SpaceX launch on 24 January, adding to previous launches, including one in September and another in November, increasing the company’s fleet in service to 81. This has allowed Swarm to launch its commercial business, aimed at markets ranging from agriculture to logistics to maritime. Service is available across the world, said Spangelo.

“Too many companies have had to bear the high cost and complexity of traditional satellite solutions because it was their only connectivity option,” she said.

“Many more companies have been unable to access the benefits of connectivity due to its prohibitive costs. Now, for the first time, companies can access low cost connectivity that covers every point on Earth.”

Customers need to fit a small modem — called a Swarm Tile — into their devices to connect them to the internet of things (IoT).

Ben Longmier (pictured, left), CTO and co-founder of the company with Spangelo, said: “Swarm is already opening brand new markets that could never afford satellite data in the past. We imagine a future where every crop in a farm field, every truck on the road, every refrigerated container with vaccines, and every high value pallet being shipped internationally will have a Swarm Tile embedded into the shipment for rapid and up-to-the-hour tracking and monitoring.”

Bruce Trevarthan, founder and CEO of New Zealand automation company LayerX, said: “The value of data is not obvious until you start collecting a lot of it, but the cost of communications in very remote locations has been a barrier to achieving this.”

He said he has seen the cost of monthly data collection drop from $450 a month to less than $15. “The low price of Swarm’s satellite communications services removes this barrier entirely, making it viable for our customers to collect increased amounts of data on a more regular basis.”