UK satellite firm Inmarsat has agreed a deal with telecoms provider Vodafone, in a move that will provide internet connectivity to remote parts of the world for the IoT.
Vodafone is taking serious steps towards becoming the global provider of connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT). The latest announcement with Inmarsat comes alongside news that the company is working with HiWeb to support the launch of IoT services in Iran.
Vodafone’s moves into IoT connectivity suggests that it will play a major role in supplying connectivity for the driverless cars, smart cities and connected devices of the near future, across industries such as transport, agriculture and energy.
The announcement symbolizes the first partnership between Inmarsat and a mobile phone network for roaming over its global satellite capabilities. However, speaking to FT, Inmarsat chief executive Rupert Pearce suggested that the deal was the first of many, as satellite and mobile networks begin to form broad partnerships to deliver IoT connectivity for potential applications around the world.
“On a driverless car, or a truck or an oil rig, an ultra-fast reliable and low-cost network is paramount,” said Pearce.
Speaking to FT, Ivo Rook, director of Vodafone’s internet of things (IoT) business, said: “Success in IoT demands a mix of different technologies for different applications. By adding satellite connectivity from Inmarsat to the Vodafone portfolio we continue to deliver on our strategy to lead in managed Internet of Things services.”
Inmarsat exploring the potential of LoRaWAN
The new partnership with Vodafone isn’t the first move that Inmarsat has made into IoT technology. A recent blog post from Phil Myers, head of innovation at Inmarsat, explains why the London-based satellite company is exploring the potential of LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Networks), particularly with regards to the agriculture industry. In rural areas farmers often rely on connected devices to track cattle.
“As LoRa networks can cover up to 700km2 in rural environments, this is an ideal solution for tracking cattle”, he writes. “Add a small tag to each cow (ear or collar) and the farmer can simply look at an app on his smart phone and see where each one is. He can also set up a geofence so that if a cow moves through the virtual barrier he receives an alert and can do something about it. This brings a couple of benefits: firstly, it may be possible to identify sick animals who are behaving erratically; it will also allow any theft to be monitored.”