Eutelsat Communications, Senet, TrakAssure, and Wyld Networks have formed a global consortium to advance LoRaWAN network coverage for supply chain optimisation. The consortium hopes to bring seamlessly integrated and interoperable terrestrial and satellite LoRaWAN IoT connectivity to customers across the globe.
“The lack of affordable wireless coverage is holding back the growth of the IoT from contributing an additional US$2 trillion to US$3 trillion in value to global GDP over the next decade,” said Alastair Williamson, CEO of Wyld Networks. “Combining two advanced frontier technologies of LoRaWAN and Low Earth Orbiting satellites we can enable 100% global, affordable and low power connectivity to support IoT deployments in multiple markets and segments.”
Don Miller, board member at TrakAssure, is optimistic about the launch of the world’s first LoRaWAN direct-to-satellite with terrestrial dual-mode network compatibility.
“The combined effort will usher in a fresh, cost effective and carrier grade solution opening up new applications in logistics and global asset tracking markets by not only leveraging cost-efficient terrestrial based LoRaWAN solutions, but now expanding capability with ubiquitous global connectivity via satellite which even existing cellular solutions cannot support, especially for emerging markets,” said Miller.
Called the Multimodal IoT Infrastructure Consortium (MMIIC), it will initially focus on formalising and completing all technical tests, pilots, and the commercial delivery of its first-to-market supply chain solutions.
This will be followed by the prioritisation and delivery of additional solutions designed to extend the adoption of LoRaWAN connectivity into markets that can benefit from the combination of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and terrestrial network connectivity.
Key activities being executed in support of the collaboration include:
- Currently being tested, ELO nanosatellites (Eutelsat LEO for Objects) will provide LoRaWAN coverage
- Allowing sensor-enabled devices to transmit data, irrespective of their location
- Addressing gaps in terrestrial network coverage across rural areas, shipping and transportation routes, and other hard to reach areas.
The companies are planning a commercial services launch in the second half of 2022 with pilots beginning in February 2022. The consortium is open to any enterprise, application provider or systems integrator interested in participating in a pilot or learning more about this unique service.
Under the hood: collaboration details
Through platform integrations, innovative sensor and hardware design, collaborative service delivery, and compelling pricing, the four companies are targeting the global supply chain, including container logistics and related asset tracking, as the first and anchor applications. End-to-end managed network services delivered through this collaboration will provide a new level of visibility into supply chain operations. For example:
- Containers arriving at ports are tracked via Senet’s terrestrial network
- Goods transported on cargo trucks are tracked throughout metro areas via Senet’s Network and Extended Coverage services enabled by network partners like Helium
- Rural transportation routes will be connected via the terrestrial network if detected and to the satellite network when no terrestrial network is detected, and an uplink is needed
- Distribution and retail centers will be supported by terrestrial network coverage
TrakAssure and Wyld Networks are collaborating on the design and production of a new sensor-enabled end device to be used for supply chain and asset tracking solutions.
Wyld is designing and producing the hardware module along with unique firmware. Using standard LoRaWAN compliant chips and components will allow for low cost and time to market advantages. Through its partnership with Senet, TrakAssure will be offering terrestrial and satellite LoRaWAN network connectivity for single trip, semi and permanent infrastructure-based supply chain visibility.
In addition to location tracking and presence detection, TrakAssure supports LoRaWAN devices used for temperature monitoring, geofence location alerts, proof of delivery and other supply chain visibility requirements.
Benefits of hybrid LoRaWAN connectivity
According to Luc Perard, senior vice president of IoT Business at Eutelsat, existing LPWA networks, including LoRaWAN, are ideal to connect assets that don’t send much data and need to operate on a low power budget.
However, he pointed out that they rely on terrestrial infrastructure, such as LoRaWAN gateways, which will never cover more than extended urban areas, i.e., less than 15% of the Earth’s surface.
“With its satellite connectivity offering ELO, Eutelsat will enable network operators like Senet to propose transformational, global, hybrid (terrestrial + satellite) LoRaWAN connectivity, over lands and seas, at the same low-price points.
“Because ELO is fully compatible with the LoRaWAN standard, IoT solution providers and device manufacturers like TrakAssure and Wyld can easily, rapidly and inexpensively adapt their existing LoRaWAN products to make them ELO-compatible and benefit from up to 100% Earth coverage,” said Perard.
Meanwhile, Senet will provide terrestrial LoRaWAN network connectivity and offer Eutelsat satellite coverage through its Extended Coverage services. Through unique network and device management capabilities, end IoT devices will connect to Senet terrestrial networks by default and automatically switch to satellite when coverage gaps are recognised.
In partnership with TrakAssure and Wyld Networks, Senet will also complete application integration and device testing with its network server to ensure the delivery of carrier-grade network service and robust device management for TrakAssure’s supply chain visibility solutions.
“IoT will drive economic growth for decades to come, but a comprehensive and cost-effective strategy is needed in order to deliver robust network coverage across a geography as massive as the United States,” said Bruce Chatterley, CEO of Senet.
Chatterley added: “Senet’s terrestrial Network, extended coverage through partners like Helium, innovative LPWAN Virtual Network program, and now satellite creates the first and only true national and global LoRaWAN IoT network, covering any geographic area required. This capacity is especially important to logistics applications and is another example of Senet innovating based on unique market and customer requirements.”