The global IoT satellite communications market is growing at a steady pace, according to a new research report from IoT analyst Berg Insight.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world satellite IoT subscriber base has grown to exceed 3.4 million in 2020. The number of satellite IoT subscribers will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.8 percent to reach 15.7 million in 2025. Just 10 Approximately one percent of the earth’s surface has access to terrestrial connectivity services which leaves a huge opportunity for satellite IoT communications.
Satellite connectivity provides a complement to terrestrial cellular and non-cellular networks in remote locations, particularly useful for applications in agriculture, resource monitoring, maritime and intermodal transport, exploration of the oil and gas industry, utilities, construction and governments. Both incumbent satellite operators and more than two dozen new ventures are now betting on the IoT connectivity market. This new study covers a total of 38 satellite IoT operators.
“Orbcomm, Inmarsat, Iridium and Globalstar are the largest satellite IoT network operators today”, says Johan Fagerberg, Principal Analyst at Berg Insight.
Originally a dedicated satellite operator, Orbcomm has grown into an end-to-end solution provider, providing services on its satellite network as well as being a reseller partner of Inmarsat and others. At the end of 2020, the company had 1.2 million satellite IoT subscribers on its own and Inmarsat’s networks. At the same time, Iridium and Globalstar had 1.1 million and 0.4 million subscribers respectively. Other players with connections in the tens of thousands include for example Kineis in France and Thuraya in the United Arab Emirates.
In addition to incumbent satellite operators, a number of new initiatives have recently appeared on the market. Examples of some high profile projects are Astrocast, CASC / CASIC, Fleet Space Technologies, Hiber, Ingenu, Kepler Communications, Lynk, Myriota, Skylo, Swarm Technologies (SpaceX) and Totum Labs. Many of these are based on concepts of nanosatellites in low Earth orbit.
Mr. Fagerberg concludes:
“While most rely on proprietary satellite connectivity technologies to support IoT devices, many are starting to take advantage of terrestrial wireless IoT connectivity technologies including OQ Technology, AST SpaceMobile, Omnispace, Satellite and Galaxy Space (3GPP 4G / 5G ); EchoStar Mobile and Lacuna Space (LoRaWAN); and Eutelsat (Sigfox). “