Introduction to Satellite IoT – Serie 1 – March 2017

For some applications that can be impacted by regulations, demand has few chance to exceed dramatically the average case but could fall drastically if there is a public resistance to deployment.  On the contrary, in other applications such as in transport or industry, there is huge opportunities for high demand if more potential users are convinced about the benefits of IoT adoption, or if new IoT solution providers penetrate the IoT market.

Today most of IoT applications use public cellular networks or short range, licence exempt with dependency on whether local or wide area operation is required. The majority of IoT applications are NB – narrow band (often 16 kbps or less) and can use low cost narrow band short range devices.  A number of new IoT powered technologies is also emerging, typically targeting narrower band applications with a need to keep the battery autonomy over several years.

In order to help us to segment IoT applications, we have identified three key entry parameters, each having a number of specific characteristics:


  • Range: location (e.g. indoor, outdoor), coverage, distribution, degree of mobility: static, nomadic or moving.
  • Bandwidth: bit rate, data volume, transmission duty cycle, software update requirements
  • QoS: security, criticality, sensitivity to delay or error.

A number of secondary characteristics have been identified as key influencing the choice of technology:

  • The extent of deployment internationally,
  • The application lifecycle,
  • The power requirements,
  • The accessibility,
  • And last but not least the size and cost.


If we consider, that IoT technology falls into two broad categories, respectively short range (SR) and wide area (WA). Some applications may involve more than just one technology and many technologies are already available, whereas others are still under development.

Local area technologies include well known Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee and generic short range device (SRD) standards.  There are also application specific standards, e.g. for alarms, medical devices, RFID, telemetry and transport and traffic telematics.

Wide area technologies include 2G cellular (GPRS), 3G (UMTS / HSPA) and 4G (LTE), Current cellular networks require the use of a SIM card which may be an issue for some users who do not wish to be locked in by using a unique network operator. This can be overcome by using a roaming SIM. There are also a number of specific technologies, namely Sigfox, Weightless and RPMA. Weightless is an open standard using a technology similar to Bluetooth whilst Sigfox uses UNB technology to deliver bit rates up to 100 bps.  Both technologies claim to provide wide area cellular-type coverage with minimal device power consumption, enabling battery life of 10 years.

We have defined below a classification based on eight application groups, based on the above key parameters.  Each application groups gathers similar application types.

IoT applications represent one of the fastest growing sectors of the wireless communications market, covering a wide range of applications, technologies and frequency bands. In the next serie, we will develop a reverse approach but complementary, placing again the satellite part and demonstrating how it can play an important in an area that is today poorly covered. Stay tuned to our next edition !

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