Inmarsat partners with Vodafone on IoT satellite connectivity

Satellite connectivity for the IoT will turn it into the 'internet of everywhere', according to Inmarsat, which will provide networks globally for Vodafone.

Global telecommunications giant Vodafone has announced partnering with satellite provider Inmarsat on satellite connectivity worldwide to further enable uptake of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The roaming agreement covers usage of the Inmarsat I-4 satellite network, which provides global L-band coverage through all weather conditions. This will allow for fixed-line and mobile connectivity that stretches beyond the reach of terrestrial networks to suit the requirements of such industries as agriculture, utilities, oil and gas, and transportation.

"Deploying satellite connectivity to complement terrestrial networks for IoT applications changes the Internet of Things into the Internet of Everywhere," said Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce.

"The growth in mission-critical IoT applications is driving demand for connectivity with unprecedented reach, range, and reliability on a global basis. This agreement marks a first for Inmarsat: Enabling a mobile operator to utilise broadband roaming services on our global network."

Vodafone director of IoT Ivo Rook said the satellite connectivity deal with Inmarsat will allow the telco to continue leading the world in managed IoT services.

Vodafone has been focused on IoT throughout 2016; in April, it launched an open lab in Newbury, UK, alongside Chinese network technology giant Huawei dedicated to the research and development (R&D) of NB-IoT technology and applications.

The lab provides a testing environment for IoT application developers and chip, module, and device manufacturers, the companies said.

Vodafone Group R&D director Luke Ibbetson said the two companies had been working on NB-IoT technology standards for a year prior to the launch, with the open lab to build on this progress.

"The new labs will be critical to the next phase of development, which is to build a vibrant NB-IoT ecosystem," Ibbetson said at the time.

Vodafone Australia, meanwhile, completed its trial of NB-IoT technology across a number of live sites in suburban and central Melbourne in April in partnership with Huawei, calling the wireless low-power wide-area network tests a success.

Vodafone was able to attain greater depth and distance -- to the tune of penetrating through three double-brick walls in depth, and up to 30km in distance -- in coverage using NB-IoT in comparison to 2G, 3G, and 4G.

Vodafone in August also released its IoT Barometer 2016, a survey of 1,096 executives worldwide, emphasising its position as a world leader in IoT.

"Vodafone are the leaders when it comes to IoT," Vodafone Australia executive general manager of Enterprise Stuart Kelly said.

"The Australian market from an IoT standpoint is expected to go beyond AU$1 billion in revenues by 2021; worldwide, there'll be 20 billion devices connected to the internet based upon IoT ... we're at the early stages of IoT, but the network team are laying the foundations for us to lead the market in this space.

"Worldwide, Vodafone Group are the number one players when it comes to M2M and IoT, and we need to take that capability and bring it into the Australian market. IoT as we said is becoming increasingly important, [but] when we look at the readiness of business in the Australian market, it differs greatly."

Vodafone also attained 20Gbps peak rates during an outdoor 5G e-band field test with Huawei in the UK in July.

The test covered a single-user Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) with a strong reflection path to reach 20Gbps user equipment (UE) peak rate, and multi-user MIMO for long-range UE to reach a 10Gbps peak rate.

Similarly, Vodafone Australia earlier this month demonstrated throughput speeds of up to 5Gbps in a public 5G lab trial at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in partnership with Nokia using 8x8 MIMO and 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) technologies.

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