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Essentials of IoT: Satellite Systems

If you think of IoT the same way you think of mobile services, in simplistic terms they are very similar: they provide a connection, require software, and operate through a network.

The last factor can happen in many ways, most conventionally through a fixed line or a terrestrial router, but when these are not available in e.g. remote or secluded locations, a satellite link needs to be established.

Such satellites, dedicated solely to M2M transmissions, are the current talk of the IoT industry: are they needed? Can IoT manage without them? It is true that satellites are expensive; their set up requires significant resources and if they are not as useful as predicted, the blow back is not small. Despite these reasons, Dashboard argues that satellites are, indeed, a necessity if the IoT market wants to grow beyond its current size and state.

If estimates are to be believed, there will be between 20 and 26 billion connected devices only three years from now; that means an even larger number of connections between these devices. To handle that amount of complicated data, infrastructures, and systems more complex than landlines will be required. Geographical borders and demand for speed will not be overcome with simple existing platforms. To enable the full potential of IoT, satellites are the only reliable option to deliver on this.

Finally, in terms of security, which has been the biggest issue circling around IoT since the very start, satellites provide a much more secure, stable connection than individual terrestrial routers. Protected by their sheer volume, as well as the investment put into satellites, they are a harder target to access than the alternative.

Randy C. Roberts, Vice President of Innovation at Thuraya, one of the world’s leading network companies with business in 162 countries, agrees on the issue: “While Wi-Fi deployments, Bluetooth and terrestrial GSM networks are able to support most applications, these network services simply cannot provide the ubiquitous and seamless coverage of satellites. The ultimate success of the IoT will depend on the active support of satellite networks.”

To link back to the initial comparison to mobile services: creating a satellite infrastructure for them wasn’t initially met with the greatest support either, and yet it is one of the most, if not the most, used networks on the planet. For these reasons, Dashboard believes satellites are an absolute must for the IoT industry.