In a move that the mobile satellite services provider confidently predicts will unlock massive internet of things (IoT) capability across Europe, EchoStar Mobile has unveiled an early adopter programme for the pan-European satellite-based LoRa (long range) IoT service and has released a whitepaper outlining the benefits of massive IoT.
The LoRa Alliance is an open, non-profit association whose members collaborate and share experiences to promote and drive the success of the LoRaWAN standard as the leading open global standard for secure, carrier-grade IoT LPWAN connectivity. Described as intrinsically affordable and simple to install, LoRaWAN is designed to bridge terrestrial networks with worldwide satellite connectivity to offer low-power ubiquitous connectivity to fill the gap in IoT use cases using unlicensed frequency bands to transmit data over a far longer range than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
With the technical flexibility to address a broad range of IoT applications, both static and mobile, and a certification programme intended to guarantee interoperability, LoRaWAN has already been deployed by major mobile network operators globally, with continuing wide expansion in 2022 and beyond.
A low-power networking protocol, LoRa is regarded as ideal for connecting battery-powered devices; however, until now, its use has been limited to receiving data from immobile devices in areas with terrestrial connectivity. The EchoStar Mobile LoRa solution allows sensors to roam freely in real time while sending and receiving information, making use of the company’s licensed S-band spectrum and capacity on the EchoStar XXI geostationary satellite with a LoRa-enabled module that integrates easily into IoT devices. Compatible with terrestrial ISM-band LoRaWAN networks, the module incorporates the compact LR1120 chipset from Semtech, making it portable and capable of roaming anywhere within the satellite footprint, which spans the European continent.
Looking for practical applications of the standard, EchoStar’s programme will allow participants in sectors such as transport and logistics, agriculture, oil and gas, and utilities the ability to test a satellite-enabled connectivity solution that uses the LoRa low-power protocol for connecting “things” to the internet.
The whitepaper, Satellite-based LoRa unlocks Europe-wide IoT, explores use cases and how space-based connectivity can help streamline, automate and enhance IoT networks.
EchoStar said it sees big data as the new currency in a world of accelerating change. The rapid collection, processing and management of data is vital for optimising industrial processes and changing society through innovation, whether by supporting the wider development of smart cities or the transition to renewable energy. Achieving the full potential of IoT means accessing data from thousands of machines, factories or distribution facilities, however remote, and bringing it to a central point for analysis and insight.
“LoRa connectivity makes up 45% of today’s global IoT networks; it’s perfect for connecting low-powered ‘things’, yet its reliance on terrestrial connectivity restricts its usefulness,” explained EchoStar Mobile vice-president and general manager Telemaco Melia.
“Replacing fibre and cable with satellite connectivity, the EchoStar Mobile solution is the first real-time, bi-directional LoRa service with mobile and remote capabilities. Accelerating the adoption of massive IoT, our programme already spans more than 10,000 devices, with the service expected to scale to millions of devices in Europe alone. The EchoStar Mobile satellite-enabled LoRa network enables industries to use IoT in innovative ways that can transform their operations,” added Melia.
The EchoStar Mobile LoRa early adopter programme will run through 2022, with commercial availability expected around the end of the year.