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San Diego
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Sateliot Aims to Make Satellite Telecom a Reality

COMMUNICATIONS: Firm Plans to Track Internet of Things With 5G Technology

SAN DIEGO – Sateliot is building a business by connecting three promising technologies: small satellites, 5G wireless communications and the internet of things (IoT).

In fact, the company name is a mash-up of two of those: satellite and IoT.
Most of startup’s 53 employees are in Barcelona, Spain, but San Diego is a natural second home.

Jaume Sanpera

Sateliot has one foot in the United States for several reasons. The U.S. is No. 1 in the world when it comes to business, said Jaume Sanpera, CEO of Sateliot. Southern California is also home of wireless talent including 5G powerhouse Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM).

In addition, Sateliot is part of San Diego’s EvoNexus high-tech incubator program. “With EvoNexus, we saw the opportunity to be introduced to investors,” said Sanpera.

So far the business has raised some $20.2 million, completing its seed round and Series A. Spain-based Banco Santader provided some $6.42 million of that in January.
Series B is progressing, Sanpera said.

As of January, industrial partner Indra owned 10.5% of the company, while Cellnex held 3.5%.

Two Satellites in Orbit, Four to Launch Soon

With a pair of satellites already in orbit, the business plans to launch four low-Earth-orbit satellites on a SpaceX rocket in June. Low Earth orbit satellites can reach a wide swath of territory. Once those assets are in place, Sateliot says it will begin commercial operations.

“We are closer to becoming the first IoT constellation operating worldwide under the 5G standard,” Sanpera said.

The satellites are cubesats, which are relatively small as satellites go. Measuring approximately 8 by 4 by 14 inches, they weigh 22 pounds. They are designed to have a lifespan of five years.

The satellites will be able to monitor the location of assets on earth, for example pinpointing the location of a shipping container, or an animal on the range.

A voice call on a 5G network requires a lot of data traveling back and forth over the connection continuously. By contrast, an IoT message (showing the location of a shipping container, for example) requires only a small amount of data, perhaps twice a day.

New Plans Shaping Up; Looking Ahead to 2027

Sateliot wants to get its network to the point where it can offer real-time services. The business has plans to deploy a complete satellite constellation by 2027 or 2028 to offer such coverage.

The business is already designing its next generation of satellites, Sanpera said.
Sateliot uses standard Qualcomm chipsets, the CEO said. The 2022 release of the 5G standard (called 3GPP Release 17) gave 5G several new capabilities, including the ability to operate in “non-terrestrial networks” – in other words, satellites in space.

By offering space-based 5G communications, Sateliot fills one of Qualcomm’s needs, Sanpera said.

Making a telephone connection to satellites is possible right now. However, a person must use expensive hardware to connect with existing commercial services, the CEO said. By contrast, Sateliot is working to connect shipping containers, livestock, and other assets using standard, unmodified 5G devices, very similar to those used in advanced cell phone networks.

Sateliot announced a milestone in February, saying it achieved a 5G service messaging connection with the help of the Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) commercial network and Amazon Web Services.

Targeting Places With Wide-Open Spaces

The United States is poised to be Sateliot’s No. 1 market, Sanpera said, while Brazil, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa and Canada will be important secondary markets.

In addition to agriculture and transportation, Sateliot sees potential markets in logistics, oil and gas, energy and mining.

Sateliot has already entered into service deals, including one where it will demonstrate connectivity to the IoT market in areas of Turkey that have no cellular coverage. Its partner in the effort, Turkcell, is the largest telecom operator in Turkey and has a presence in nine countries.

CEO: Jaume Sanpera
HEADQUARTERS: Barcelona, Spain, with an office in the EvoNexus incubator in University City
BUSINESS: Satellite services using 5G wireless technology
FUNDING: $20.2 million
NOTABLE: In February, the business achieved a 5G wireless messaging connection with the help of Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) and Amazon Web Services.


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