Delivering IoT Value from a New Frontier – Outer Space
Internet of Things, also known as IoT, represents a massive growth opportunity, but today many businesses are still unable to reach remote assets due to insufficient coverage. Consumer IoT devices and services, such as smart devices, are oriented toward individual users or families and rely on proximity technologies like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. When defining an Industrial IoT solution, however, the key metrics shift toward distance, scalability and security.
With such a diverse range of industries involved – from telecoms to oil and gas, agriculture and banking – assets must be connected with objects even in the most remote of locations. The vast majority of applications do not require high-speed communication and the amount of data exchanged is small. Nevertheless, assets can be located anywhere, including rural and environmentally challenging territories such as mountains, deserts, or at sea, and dispersed across multiple regions. In these situations, where secure, guaranteed, cost-effective connectivity is just as essential, satellite is the only technology capable of delivering reliable connectivity to these assets.
Compared to other types of IoT connectivity, Satellite IoT excels in its ability to reach assets almost regardless of location, as well as its reliability over long range. With Satellite IoT, enterprises can monitor and run operations in extremely remote areas and gain valuable data and insights on remote assets almost instantaneously. However, until recently, satellite connectivity options for IoT were expensive and complex to roll out, causing many businesses to lose confidence in the solution. This is about to change, as recent technological advances have made connectivity solutions much more adaptable with IoT by reducing speeds and creating more efficient networks.
Key use applications in the new decade
There are countless applications for Satellite IoT networks. With uses ranging from the monitoring of power plants and oil and gas pipelines to farming operations, point-of-sale locations, and the latest security solutions, IoT will play an integral part of everyday management and services. For industrial-related IoT, the number of connections worldwide is forecast to grow sevenfold between 2018 and 2028, to over five billion connected devices. Global operations can now be managed from a single, off-site location, with hundreds of decisions and actions automated based on the data received from remote devices around the world. These connected assets will enable over $398 billion worth of revenue to be generated in 2028 by various players in the IoT industry. They include hardware manufacturers, connectivity providers, application developers, and solution providers. IoT is clearly a massive business opportunity that no enterprise can afford to miss.
Satellite IoT is widely applicable to many industries. The banking and retail industry, for instance, taps on satellite IoT to connect their ATMs and Point-of-Sales in order to support the digitalisation efforts of countries looking to bridge the digital divide. The agriculture and environmental industries leverage satellite IoT to support the development of Agricultural technology (AgriTech) and smart weather stations. The telecommunications industry, a more apparent example, uses the technology to provide monitoring of telecom towers and backhauling for low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) IoT solutions. In addition, the energy, utilities and industrial industries can today easily monitor smart meters, solar farms and other isolated equipment securely, in remote areas.
Satellite IoT a major enabler during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis are posing huge challenges. Both crises are global, but their impacts are deeply local. The enormous diversity of countries in Asia Pacific (APAC) means that responses to the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis will necessarily differ. With travel restricted, enterprises need to increase their ability to operate remotely, increasingly implementing automation in their processes. Enterprises today are also looking to streamline their operations to reduce costs.
Connected IoT objects communicate data and relay orders without requiring human-to-human or even human-to-computer interaction. As everything is connected, hundreds of decisions and actions can be automated based on data received from remote devices, and human input can be informed by immediate information gained from sources around the world. IoT is a major enabler, especially in Asia where huge and sometimes isolated areas need to be covered. When a remote asset is connected, it can send data about its status to the company’s headquarters, which can make informed decisions and actions, saving the company vital resources.
Asia Pacific a global leader in IoT deployment
The APAC region is a global leader in industry specific deployments, thanks to government support to promote the development of IoT across all major industries. New findings from IDC highlight a market on the increase, with APAC forecast to account for 35.7 percent of worldwide spending in 2019, ahead of the US and Europe at 27.3 percent and 21.2 percent, respectively. Expected to reach US$398.6 billion by 2023, such growth is being driven by China as the top spender in the region with US$168.6 billion accounted for the year 2019. This is followed by South Korea and India with spending of US$26.2 billion and US$20.6 billion respectively.
Indeed, the need for connectivity in the APAC region is even higher, as there are more isolated areas that need to be covered. The main IoT applications we are seeing in APAC today are transportation, maritime and consumer IoT, but other applications will see a significant increase, such as energy and utilities, and agriculture, with the emergence of more cost-effective IoT communications satellites, or satcoms, and new small satellite (smallsat) solutions.
Satellites have unique advantages to connect IoT assets, offering truly ubiquitous coverage which can reach objects with limited or no access to terrestrial networks. In the past, IoT connectivity via satellite would suffer from things such as poor reception or weather patterns. Today, these problems are no longer a threat. With the expansion of IoT in such diverse sectors, business-critical information from tens of millions of objects will need to be sent from areas not served by terrestrial networks, and from across multiple territories.