The New Space Race: How Nanosatellite Startups Will Impact the IoT Connectivity Landscape

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1Q 2019 | IN-5381


Launching Nanosatellite Constellation Networks


Much of the recent focus on emerging wireless network technologies has centered around 5G deployments but, within the past year, approximately two dozen nanosatellite startups, including Astrocast, Hiber, and Swarm, have entered the IoT market in an effort to increase the value proposition of satellite-connected IoT solutions. Joining established satellite communications companies such as Iridium, GlobalStar, and ORBCOMM, these startups are focused on reducing the costs of creating these networks by relying on open standards and smaller sized CubeSat satellites (30 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm) launched via SpaceX rockets to significantly lower deployment and solution costs to as little as US$3/month/device.

While Iridium’s NEXT constellation of 75 satellites (66 active and 9 spares) cost nearly US$3 billion to deploy, a typical CubeSat satellite can be designed, built, and launched into orbit for less than US$1 million. One main tradeoff is that these nanosatellites are not powerful enough to handle large data transfers, such as video or voice calls, bu…

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