September 22, 2023
Satellite operator EchoStar is adding a terrestrial element to its European IoT strategy.
The US-based company, which last month agreed to merge with Dish, has partnered with The Things Industries, a Netherlands-based developer of enterprise LoRaWAN solutions.
Its portfolio includes a LoRaWAN network server which it calls The Things Stack. It handles connectivity, management and monitoring of IoT devices, gateways and applications. It is designed to provide secure, scalable, and reliable data routing throughout the network.
Under the partnership, EchoStar’s satellite IoT capabilities will be integrated into The Things Stack, paving the way for customers to connect IoT devices for real-time, two-way comms over either satellite or terrestrial networks.
The satellite network in question is EchoStar Mobile. Operated by the EchoStar XXI geostationary satellite, it provides LoRa coverage to mainland Europe, Scandinavia and the UK.
It’s fair to say that a lot of the current excitement about satellite services relates to coverage in-fill for voice and data services, rather than IoT – including some interesting breakthroughs with satellite direct-to-device (D2D) connectivity. For now though – as ABI Research noted earlier this year when it forecast satellite 5G revenues will hit $18 billion by 2031 – IoT is where the real satellite action is.
“With plug-and-play simplicity, this collaboration between EchoStar Mobile and The Things Network enables terrestrial and satellite transports to be integrated easily into the same node or module for IoT applications,” said Telemaco Melia, vice president and general manager of EchoStar Mobile.
“It’s a breakthrough that enables cost-effective IoT deployments with seamless coverage so customers can be sure their devices remain connected anytime, anywhere, within the service area – even in the most remote places,” he said.
“Our collaboration provides all the key features of our generic node combined with the wide area reach of the EchoStar network to enable smooth, universal LoRaWAN access, wherever the user may be,” added Wienke Giezeman, CEO of The Things Industries.
Neither EchoStar nor The Things Industries mentioned specific use cases for their hybrid satellite and terrestrial IoT network. However, the collaboration is being launched with a limited-time, free trial of the service that applies to each device connected.
This will give customers an opportunity to see how the hybrid solution relates to their own business processes, and might just uncover some innovative uses that haven’t been thought of yet, rather than the run-of-the-mill examples that we’ve become all too familiar with.
In July, EchoStar signed up seven new customers to its European IoT network. A couple of them are very much focused on getting coverage in remote areas like mountains and forests, but a few are more generalist, and may well see some clear advantages to adding hybrid connectivity.
For example, Rome-based sensor maker ProEsys provides monitoring solutions for customers in the energy, utilities and public transport sectors that want to monitor their infrastructure. Satellite coverage is sure to prove invaluable in remote areas, but it’s also plausible that some of that infrastructure will be within reach of terrestrial networks.
Whatever the applicable use cases may be, the combination of satellite and terrestrial will doubtless broaden the appeal of EchosStar’s European IoT solutions.
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