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10 benefits satellite communications brings to the IoT

Randy C. Roberts
Dec 23, 2014 3

The nascent Internet of Things (IoT) movement promises to deliver many kinds of new services enabled by the relentless shift towards the interconnected network of devices, as well as set the stage for unleashing the next wave of disruptive technologies. Why satellite technology plays a key role in making the IoT a reality.

Randy C. Roberts

Randy Roberts is responsible for driving product and solution innovation strategy at the mobile satellite operator, Thuraya Telecommunications Company. Based in Dubai, Randy leads the product development, product management and solutions engineering teams. He is also responsible for managing the business intelligence team to drive continuous development and enhancement of Thuraya’s product lifecycle management process. Randy is a guest author for the Bosch ConnectedWorld Blog.

As urban dwellers, we often overlook the role of satellite technology in providing vital communication links to remote areas where terrestrial networks are unavailable or out of reach. Despite the roll-out of terrestrial networks to many parts of the world, there are many regions that remain unconnected which rely on satellite connectivity. It is either physically not possible to connect users at sea or in the air except via satellite or there is no business case to justify the costs to roll-out fiber to remote, sparsely populated areas. As such, satellite technology has a key role in enabling new applications and business processes that are making the IoT a reality.

Here are the top 10 benefits satellite communications brings to the IoT movement:

1. Connecting remote assets

Business operations that extend to geographically remote environments depend on satellites to provide the critical communication means to conduct remote facility monitoring and real-time asset management at unmanned sites and offshore platforms.

2. Driving the use of sensor networks

Energy and mining companies are exploring more extensive usage of satellite-based sensor networks to support their offshore exploration projects.

3. Transforming transportation infrastructure

Broadband connectivity on trains, cargo vehicles and maritime vessels is a burgeoning trend in the global transportation landscape, and satellite communications plays a pivotal role in enabling innovative mobility services.

4. Developing sustainable cities

City administrators around the world are harnessing the power of the IoT to drive energy efficiency measures and smarter resource allocation to help make cities more sustainable; for instance, satellite is key to enabling smart grids to be extended to remote regions where terrestrial networks fall short.

5. Facilitating mobile banking and retail

Satellite can serve as the communications backbone that keeps wireless ATMs and mobile point-of-sales applications running smoothly across a broad geographical span.

satellite communications engineer on oil platform Source: Thuraya
Despite the roll-out of terrestrial networks to many parts of the world, there are many regions that remain unconnected which rely on satellite connectivity.

7. Reliability

In an era of increased communications traffic, maintaining a high level of service reliability is always a key requirement for effective IoT deployments. Carrier integrated providers need to work with a satellite provider with a reliable network that caters to applications such as remote asset monitoring ensuring reliable, always-on connectivity.

6. Ubiquitous coverage

A new breed of innovative IoT applications will emerge from the connectivity of intelligent devices. Expected to encompass billions of devices around the world, the potential scale of the IoT demands ubiquitous network coverage between satellite operators and carrier integrated services, even in remote locations.

8. Speed

The future landscape of the IoT involves the exchange of data between interconnected objects to facilitate quicker decision making and enhance business processes. As such, the emergence of IoT is therefore driving up the demand for high broadband speeds to support bandwidth-intensive applications in real time. Users need to invest in mobile satellite equipment designed to deliver industry-leading broadband speeds with ease.

9. Cost

Terrestrial networks can be costly to deploy in some remote regions, and mobile satellite services are still widely viewed as a more affordable communications technology over other existing satellite platforms.

10. Integration

The IoT is expected to continue driving up market demand for the integration of satellite into the communications mix. Carrier integration providers need to partner with a satellite operator that is able to provide the necessary technology integration support as well as innovative hardware and flexible satellite infrastructure which are customizable to their users’ needs.

The benefits that that are outlined above capture the relevance that mobile satellite communications brings to the IoT landscape. But these are just the top of the proverbial iceberg. To deliver the promise, satellite operators and carrier integrators need to work together to enable seamless connectivity that propel our generation into the future. How we do that effectively will be the key to transforming IoT affects us all.

Which potential do you see for satellite connectivity in the IoT?



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  • Kylie Dotts 28. June 2017 at 23:02

    I like how you said that having a high level of service reliability is important to effective IoT deployments. This would be particularly important for people living in mines or other remote places with little contact with the outside world. They must have some kind of satellite uplink truck rentals that they use to ensure that they can connect and communicate when necessary.

  • Bin Xu 26. November 2016 at 15:42

    It is a great idea for IoT by using satellites.

  • Willie Reaves 9. May 2015 at 3:45

    It will be fun to watch as satellite communication reaches beyond ATMs and TV dishes into the space of connecting devices across cities. Wide-area networks are another interesting option, although maybe not quite for someone in a super remote location at sea. For those based on land, wide-area networks are becoming a really solid bet for keeping devices connected while not draining batteries. Link Labs ( and Sigfox are two to keep an eye on.

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