Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Eutelsat partners Sigfox in nanosatellite project

Steve Rogerson
October 2, 2019

European satellite operator Eutelsat is targeting the IoT with a constellation of 25 nanosatellites as part of a partnership with Sigfox.
The ELO constellation project aims to launch the satellites within the next three years.
The upcoming IoT market boom in sectors as diverse as transport, oil and gas, and agriculture means that tens of millions of objects will need to send information from areas not served by terrestrial infrastructure. Eutelsat’s ELO constellation aims to offer global IoT coverage enabling objects to transmit data, irrespective of their location.
The construction of this nanosatellite constellation will begin with a first series of four satellites, two each from Loft Orbital and Clyde Space. With expected launch dates between 2020 and 2021, these four satellites will enter commercial service as soon as they are delivered into orbit. If this initiative proves successful, other satellites will be added to the constellation, to reach a total of 25 operational by 2022.
The investment required for the constellation is included in Eutelsat’s existing capex outlook. The cost associated with each satellite will not exceed €1m.
This project follows an initial nanosatellite ordered by Eutelsat from Tyvak International last year. Planned for launch early next year, the objective of this test satellite will be to confirm the technical performance of various waveforms between a satellite in low Earth orbit and objects on the ground.
Low Earth orbit is particularly suitable for processing signals emitted by connected objects as it offers a ubiquitous satellite link, complementing terrestrial IoT networks, without increasing the cost or energy consumption of these objects.
Combining satellite technology with terrestrial IoT will be key to accessing the economies of scale required to deploy satellite IoT. Through ELO, Eutelsat’s aim is to position itself as the partner of choice for IT integrators and terrestrial operators seeking to offer their customers worldwide coverage.
Eutelsat has signed a strategic partnership with IoT player Sigfox, which runs a global narrowband network dedicated to this segment across 65 countries. Using hybrid connected objects, whose data can be captured by terrestrial networks and satellite, Sigfox will integrate the global coverage provided by the ELO constellation into its existing range of IoT connectivity services. This enhanced network coverage will open the door to many use cases in areas such as maritime transportation or logistics, but also the safety of people in emergency situations.
“We are delighted to be completing the first steps of our ELO constellation project, aimed at positioning Eutelsat in the nascent IoT segment,” said Rodolphe Belmer, CEO of Eutelsat. “Our partnership with Sigfox enables worldwide coverage through the combination of satellite and terrestrial IoT. This relatively modest investment at group level, which is fully scalable, enables Eutelsat to access an additional potential growth lever in the context of its connectivity strategy.”