Exploring Internet of Things connectivity solutions via satellite
New satellite constellations are being launched to improve the connectivity options for the Internet of Things (IoT) market. Many application segments will benefit from these new constellations due to the larger range of coverage they offer when compared to terrestrial communication networks.
Different IoT application segments require different types of communication connectivity. Some IoT apps will require real-time connectivity to have a constant flow of data and information, yet some will only require near real-time.
IoT app connectivity market development
By 2024, there will be 24 million IoT connections made via satellite, according to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research. Their analysis unveils the long-term opportunity within the satellite space for the growth of IoT deployments, particularly in application verticals, such as agriculture and asset tracking.
"Terrestrial cellular networks only cover 20 percent of the Earth’s surface, while satellite networks can cover the entire surface of the globe, from pole to pole," said Harriet Sumnall, research analyst at ABI Research.
The application segments that are expected to see significant growth include agriculture, asset tracking, maritime tracking, and aviation tracking. Maritime and aviation tracking are two important markets for the satellite space due to the lack of terrestrial infrastructures available within their location.
Vendors such as Aerial & Maritime (A&M) provide cost-effective aircraft ADS-B surveillance and ship AIS tracking from constellations of nano-satellites. This technology is a game-changer in this industry space, and recent initiatives demonstrate the high-end tracking capabilities from large satellites in multi-constellations.
According to the ABI assessment, though this is yet to be considered a cost-efficient process, it is expected to become more so with upcoming Software Defined Radio technology, as it is possible to use nano-satellites for these actions.
The larger and more traditional satellite providers are facing new competition from many new start-up constellations from vendors like Amazon and SpaceX, which are launching Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
LEO satellites, though, are costly in the set-up of the constellations as many satellites are required to give the coverage that vendors are offering.
Outlook for satellite communication growth
LEO satellites are more cost-effective than the larger traditional satellites for these IoT applications. The conventional satellite providers will not only have to consider driving their prices down to become more competitive than the newcomers but also be sure they stay relevant within the market.
"Once the market becomes more successful and has matured, the pricing strategies will drop overall, allowing the satellite IoT connectivity options to compete against terrestrial connectivity options," Sumnall concludes.
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