Satellite integration brings new possibilities for 5G and IoT

12 January 2022 | Melanie Mingas

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Major satellite operators have confirmed new reach for their coverage over recent days, which will benefit the industrial and logistics sectors, while claiming a world first for IoT connectivity.

Eutelsat has formed a multi-stakeholder partnership with Senet, TrakAssure and Wyld Networks to pioneer new possibilities in carrier-grade IoT connectivity.

The world first will see the cohort integrate terrestrial and satellite LoRaWAN IoT connectivity for customers across the globe, while addressing gaps in terrestrial network coverage across rural areas, shipping and transportation routes, as well as other hard to reach areas.

The project will call on ELO nanosatellites – that is Eutelsat LEO for Objects – which will be used to provide LoRaWAN coverage, allowing sensor-enabled devices to transmit data, irrespective of their location.

The group is targeting the global supply chain, including container logistics and related asset tracking, as the first and anchor applications.

Luc Perard, SVP of the IoT business at Eutelsat said that because ELO is fully compatible with the LoRaWAN standard, IoT solution providers and device manufacturers like TrakAssure and Wyld can adapt their existing LoRaWAN products to make them ELO-compatible and benefit from "up to 100% Earth coverage".

Perard added: “Existing LPWA networks, including LoRaWAN, are ideal to connect assets that don’t send much data and need to operate on a low power budget,” said Luc Perard, SVP of the IoT business at Eutelsat. “But they rely on terrestrial infrastructure, such as LoRaWAN gateways, which will never cover more than extended urban areas, i.e. less than 15% of the Earth’s surface. With its satellite connectivity offering ELO, Eutelsat will enable network operators like Senet to propose transformational, global, hybrid (terrestrial + satellite) LoRaWAN connectivity, over lands and seas, at the same low-price points.

Backing their collaboration, Eutelsat, Senet TrakAssure and Wyld have formed the Multimodal IoT Infrastructure Consortium – shortened to MMIIC – which will have an initial focus on formalising and completing technical tests, pilots, and the commercial delivery of its first-to-market supply chain solutions.

The cohort said this will be followed by "the prioritisation and delivery of additional solutions designed to extend the adoption of LoRaWAN connectivity into markets that can benefit from the combination of LEO and terrestrial connectivity".

Don Miller, Board Member at TrakAssure said: “We are very excited to be part of a consortium of thought leaders launching the world’s first LoRaWAN direct-to-satellite with terrestrial dual-mode network compatibility.

"The combined effort will usher in a fresh, cost effective and carrier grade solution opening up new applications in logistics and global asset tracking markets by not only leveraging cost-efficient terrestrial based LoRaWAN solutions, but now expanding capability with ubiquitous global connectivity via satellite which even existing cellular solutions cannot support, especially for emerging markets,” noted

Meanwhile over in Canada, the industrial sector is to benefit from new possibilities in 5G satellite connectivity as Telesat works to integrate its Lightspeed LEO network into 5G networks as part of a new, strategic partnership with ENCQOR 5G.

Using the ENCQOR testbed satellite assets and national and international 5G infrastructures will be utilised to advance 5G connectivity, particularly to industries operating in rural areas.

The two said their work will "not only enable further developments and innovation of 5G and next-generation digital communication technologies but will also drive economic growth for Canada and bring internet connectivity to the entire nation, including in both rural and urban areas".

Stephen Hampton, manager of public policy at Telesat said: “We firmly believe our combined efforts will not only benefit the Canadian ICT and digital technologies industries, but that the development of these services will also minimise the current connectivity divide for industrial verticals. We think this will have a marked impact on the citizens of Canada and will set the stage to export technologies and 5G networks to the global market - especially once we seamlessly integrate our highly advanced Telesat Lightspeed LEO satellite network into these 5G networks.”

The partnership will also allow both Telesat and ENCQOR 5G to collaborate with other industries, academia, and organisations across Canada and around the world.

Pierre Boucher, GM of ENCQOR 5G said: “Having a world leading company like Telesat on board will prove momentous in expanding the geographical reach of 5G networks, and this agreement will create a strong pathway for productive collaboration between Telesat and our organisation.”  

Last year, Intelsat demonstrated it can provide 5G via satellite while Inmarsat activated a trial payload for its planned 5G satellite project, Orchestra.