Astrocast announces commercial launch of bidirectional satellite IoT service

Global nanosatellite internet-of-things network provider switches on service that it says will redefine the boundaries of IoT, enabling all businesses to benefit in any location

The broadband skies are getting more crowded after Astrocast announced the commercial launch of its bidirectional satellite internet of things (SatIoT) service, designed to connect IoT devices globally when outside of cell-based terrestrial networks, at a comparable cost.

The company said that in any remote IoT deployment, device size, power consumption and reliability were priority concerns and it feels bidirectional IoT has a significant role to play in a workable IoT system. Indeed, it regards the ability to send commands back to assets, rather than just receive data, is hugely powerful and enables an array of new use cases, including remote management of equipment.

In one possible use case, Astrocast said SatIoT could enable farmers to command silos to release food, open gates or manage irrigation systems, with no need for expensive and often hard-to-source human interaction. It also suggested that utility companies could remotely control water management systems in line with flood prevention strategies.

With information integrated with existing analytics, artificial intelligence or machine learning technology, organisations have the power to use this data to improve understanding, and direct actions of remote assets.

Astrocast believes accessibility to SatIoT could transform the business model for global IoT, opening the door to a raft of new, powerful applications that will accelerate change and deliver tangible value to business, individuals and the environment. Its SatIoT devices offer low power consumption and a battery life of up to 10 years, considerations that it says will become vital as organisations embark on deploying a strategic SatIoT initiative. By combining good-quality battery technology with an intelligent approach to data transmission, the lifecycle of an IoT solution is significantly extended, it said.

Astrocast’s devices only transmit data when satellites are in range, instead of continuously. This, said the company, “radically” increases battery life, especially in applications that do not require constant information updates. This also reduces the price of data for end-users.

Utilising its own recently launched nanosatellite constellation in low Earth orbit (LEO), Astrocast supports connectivity in applications in asset tracking, telemetry and telematics. Possible vertical industries include maritime, agriculture and livestock, environment and utilities, land, transport, freight and storage, mining, oil and gas.

By default, IoT systems implemented in many of these situations are deployed in remote locations – from mines to farmland, ships to oil platforms. Projects that Astrocast has been involved with recently include working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), supporting wildfire detection, animal tracking, water monitoring and vehicle monitoring; and Wildlife Computers, enabling wildlife tracking and biodiversity management.

“So far, organisations have struggled to create a business case for deploying IoT solutions that can offer comprehensive global coverage, as well as efficient and reliable connectivity,” said Astrocast CEO Fabien Jordan. “There is now an opportunity to use satellite IoT to increase visibility, transparency and control over assets globally – and the potential for use cases across an array of sectors is almost limitless.

“What is more, in the past, these solutions have been too complex, costly, or simply unavailable. But thanks to developments in satellite IoT technology, this is changing, and organisations that recognise the potential of going beyond terrestrial IoT will be able to create new competitive advantages, too.”

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