Skylo and Sony introduced a Satellite Terminal for IoT

Above: Skylo Hub communications terminal. Cheap and accessible satellite communications

Skylo and Sony Semiconductor Israel (formerly Altair), have developed a new type of technology that allows to connect to IoT devices at very remote sites, using a combination of cellular and satellite technologies, and to implement fifth-generation narrowband communication protocol (5G-ready NB-IoT). The development has taken place in the last two years as part of a collaboration between Sony Semiconductor Israel and Skylo’s Israeli Development Center.

This technology allowed Skylo to launch a unique communications network that connects IoT devices to satellite communications using simple cellular modems and NB-IoT protocol. The concept addresses the need to connect IoT devices located in remote sites and without access to a cellular network. Skylo’s VP of Engineering and the director of its R&D center in Israel, Moshe Noah, told Techtime: “Satellite communications is an exclusive [a high-class] and expensive commodity. Our solution brings it to the consumer level”.

Cellular communication was designed for Humans – not machines

Founded in 2017 by a group of researchers led by Dr. Andrew Kalman, Skylo has developed compact 8×8 inch communications terminals which serve as a kind of hot spot through which IoT devices are connected to the company’s satellite communications network. “Through our network, any sensor can be connected to the satellite, and from there to the cloud.”

Monitoring a truck in the heart of a desert. An illustration of the need for the new solution
Monitoring a truck in the heart of a desert. An illustration of the need for the new solution

The solution is based on the NB-IoT protocol implemented by Altair cellular IoT chip set. Through this collaboration, the two companies have been able to create a bridge between cellular communications and satellite communications. According to Skylo, it reduces satellite connectivity costs by 95%: the price of the Skylo’s satellite communications terminal, Skylo Hub, is only $100, and its usage fee is $1 per connected device.

Vice President of Sony Semiconductor Israel, Dima Feldman, said that the collaboration resulted in “an entirely new IoT category in the field of connectivity between machines.” According to Noah, “The topology of cellular communications was built around people, but it fails to provide a continuous communications infrastructure when it comes to machines or sensors that monitor, for example, gas pipelines or fishing vessels.”