The satellite IoT market is currently growing, with companies such as HEAD Aerospace planning to launch constellations of satellites specifically for IoT purposes. These satellite constellations aim to provide connectivity for various markets and industries. However, there has been a shift in the market towards smaller, more affordable satellite options, known as small sats or small satellites. These small sats offer a cost-effective option for companies using satellite technology for IoT connectivity. In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, Oscar Delgado, HEAD Aerospace, and Raghu Das, ANIARA Spacecom LLC, join Ryan Chacon to discuss the current landscape of satellite IoT, plus various other topics.
Oscar Delgado is the IoT Sales & Business Development Director within HEAD AEROSPACE GROUP, focusing on IoT Business strategy and execution of the Sales plan of the Skywalker Space IoT constellation service (own Internet-of-Things (IoT) LEO constellation) and Business Development for Earth observation (E.O.) satellites business from HEAD AEROSPACE GROUP. He holds more than twenty-five years of experience in the international business development arena in the ICT sector, of which fifteen-year in the IIoT & SATIot Industry and the New Space sector last ten years. Before joining HEAD Aerospace, Oscar worked with SATIot and ICT for ORBCOMM (USA) / SKYWAVE (CANADA), TELDAT (SPAIN), DOMINION (SPAIN), MICROCITY (BRAZIL), ATOS ORIGIN (NETHERLANDS), acted as an independent consultant for QUECLINK, M3CORP, and ITO1 in Latin America Region. Sound knowledge of developing business in emerging markets in Energy, Telecommunication, Mining, Utilities (SmartGrid), Oil & Gas, Retail, Transportation, Banking, Industry, Government, and Services sectors. Oscar originally comes from Perú and holds a degree in Electronic & Electrical Engineering (UNIFEI/Brazil), a Master’s degree (UNICAN/Spain) in Computer Science, a Master’s in Business with China and Asia – Pacific (FUNIBER/Spain) – ongoing and Specialized (Perú) at Electricity Sector for Latin America. He has spoken at several international vertical events in Latin America, Europe, and ASIA.
Interested in connecting with Oscar? Reach out on Linkedin!
About HEAD Aerospace
HEAD Aerospace is a one-stop-shop service provider with integrated access from multiple Earth observation (E.O.) satellite constellations to complex turnkey geospatial solutions. A global network of more than 120 partners accesses HEAD’s centralized geodata hub of satellite imagery collected from more than 86 on-orbit satellites with image resolutions ranging from 0.3m to 1m, tri-stereo imaging, true-color night imaging, hyperspectral, video from space, C-Band, X-band, and L-Band SAR. By 2023, the E.O. constellation expects to be complete with 130+ satellites. The strategic partnership with Chinese satellite operators enables the supply of satellite imagery from Chinese sensors across the globe. These industry-leading satellites provide enormous capacity and monitoring capabilities due to frequent revisit times from the ever-growing number of sensors. A revisit capacity of 15 minutes is possible by our submeter resolution optical satellites from 56 in orbit in the morning now and every 15 minutes anywhere from 9 am to 5 pm or daily everywhere with 138 in the complete deployment of the Jilin-1 Constellation. Next to the E.O. business unit, HEAD operates its own Space-based Internet-of-Things constellation, Skywalker, with eight on-orbit satellites as part of the 48 satellites constellation plan in 2025. The Skywalker Constellation has a data collection capability from ground-based terminals every hour, down to a few minutes, depending on latitude. It also carries AIS, VDES, and ADS-B payloads for ship detection and airplane monitoring services. HEAD, with eight satellites in orbit, provides data collection at least six times a day worldwide, enabling immediate services to the market. HEAD has representation globally, with subsidiaries in France and the Netherlands and local employees on each continent.
Raghu Das has spent his career building, operating, and investing in space-related businesses in privately held and publicly traded companies. Raghu currently serves as a Venture Partner at E2MC, where he analyzes and evaluates various investment opportunities in the space sector. Raghu also heads Aniara Spacecom LLC, a boutique space advisory company that serves an international client base, including Head Aerospace. Raghu has invested and played a strategic management role with several new space start-ups, including Astrome Technologies, supported and backed by the Indian Institute of Science. Raghu previously served as the co-founder of ProtoStar Limited, a company that owned and operated two geosynchronous satellites sold to Intelsat Ltd. and SES S.A. in 2010. Raghu was co-founder of Helios Wire Corporation, an S-Band IoT operator acquired by EchoStar Corporation in 2019. Raghu also founded Ramaspace, a Luxembourg-based company engaged in space mining exploration. From 1994 to 2003, Raghu held senior positions at Loral Space & Communications Ltd., including as Managing Director of Loral Skynet, Europe Middle East Africa (EMEA), and General Manager of Loral CyberStar, Indian Ocean Region. Raghu holds a degree in Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology, India, and a master’s from George Washington University, USA.
Interested in connecting with Raghu? Reach out on Linkedin!
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(05:28) Misconceptions of satellite IoT
(07:04) What are small satellites?
(08:21) Satellite IoT vs SATCOM
(13:07) What makes a use case a good fit
(16:39) Future of IoT
– [Raghu] Hybrid connectivity is very important. Then the question is, when come to hybrid connectivity, right? Now, satellite uses a different protocol than terrestrial. If you are using 3G, 5G. Then satellite is using UHF or L-band, S-band, there’s no standardization, so industry has to move to standardization.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to our episode of the IoT For All Podcast, presented by IoT For All, the number one publication and resource for the Internet of Things. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon. On today’s episode, we have two fantastic guests. We have Oscar Delgado, the IoT Sales and Business Development Director of HEAD Aerospace, and Raghu Das, from ANIARA Space Comm. So what we’re gonna do today is we’re gonna talk a lot about space connectivity, satellites, kind of what does the current satellite landscape look like? What’s an overview of the market, what does small sat mean? Like what do small satellites mean? Why are they a good option for IoT connectivity, IoT solutions? Talk about satellite narrowband, talk about SATCOM versus Sat IoT, if that’s a term you’ve heard, kind of comparing them together, the future of satellite IoT. But needless to say, we’re gonna cover a ton of topics related to the satellite IoT space, I think you’ll get a lot of value out of, but before we get into it. If you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor Leverege. Leverege’s IoT solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com. That’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All podcast. Well, welcome gentlemen to the IoT For All podcast. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Raghu] Thank you, thank you Ryan.
– [Oscar] Thank you, thank you.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, yeah, it’s great to have both of you. Let’s kick this off by doing a quick introduction about yourself and the company for me. Oscar, I’ll start with you, and then we can pass over to Raghu.
– [Oscar] Yes, yes, hi. Well, my name is Oscar Delgado, I am the Sales and Business Developer for the IoT area for HEAD Aerospace. And exactly at this moment HEAD Aerospace is a privately owned space company with HEADquarters in Beijing, okay?
– [Ryan] Fantastic, Raghu?
– [Raghu] Yeah, my name is Raghu Das, I represent today an ANIARA Space Com based in Washington DC area. An Aero does provide communication services and also strategy and operational support to space companies in the world. In addition to an Aero, I also have a small investment venture fund called E2MC, that we invest on early to seed stage investment in the space companies only. And, so I have 20 plus year in satellite industry, I have done few startup, one in GEO constellation, one is LEO constellation, and successfully exited. And I am right now a Strategic Advisor to HEAD Aerospace.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. All right, fantastic. Thank you both for kinda that introduction. What I wanted to do was start off just kind of at a high level for our audience, talk a little bit about the current satellite landscape, the current satellite IoT market, kind of give a quick overview from your perspective. What does the landscape in the market currently look like? And Oscar, let’s start with you and then we can throw it over to Raghu.
– [Oscar] Okay, okay, well, exactly related for the HEAD Aeorspace, we are expected to growing with IoT constellation for 48 satellites in the coming two, two and a 1/2 years. Currently, we have around eight satellites that complete totally services for some types of specific market, okay? This is our planning and launching it.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, Raghu what about from your perspective?
– [Raghu] Yeah, I think the satellite IoT is nothing new, okay? IoT in 20 years ago used to be known as M2M, machine to machine. There are, billions of dollar being spent building satellite constellation, that can provide that kind of machine to machine communications. Starting with the Iridium, Globalstar, Inmarsat and ICO and many others. But I think there is a twist in the place, I think, because those companies that was providing this very expensive satellite constellation was basically, the pricing for the end user used to be higher. But the NewSpace has invented itself to have a smaller CubeSats satellite, that at least what I know, a dozen of new satellite companies that has come up in last three to five years, and HEAD Aerospace, Skywalker constellation is one of them. Many people come from any direction. So I think, IoT business, market-wise, it look at in 2021, is around a billion dollar market satellite IoT business. So it’s not a big business in the terrestrial market, but it is still. A significant portion of the generally space market and SatCom market.
– [Ryan] Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s becoming more significant day by day for a lot of industries, especially the IoT space, as well. So it’s a very exciting space. But let me ask, from when you talk to other people and organizations, are there any kind of common misconceptions that they have when you’re talking about satellite IoT or are there any kind of like challenges that maybe they push back on talking about the usability or the functionality of what satellite IoT is basically promising and saying that it’s gonna provide value to the industry?
– [Oscar] Yes, that’s exactly, you are totally correct. And many peoples, normally, they don’t believe or they don’t know that it’s possible to use a low cost satellite for the IoT at this moment. Exactly, as Raghu commented, in the past, very interesting solution, the last 20 years, but unfortunately were expensive, okay? Very, very expensive for a specific high value asset. But now we are in the new wave for a massive this type of connectivity. What do you believe, Raghu, about this?
– [Raghu] Yeah, I think, general there is a acceptance, at the same time little bit of apprehension that the cost. That new Space is providing is possible or not. And I think there’s many challenges customer for us today, because how do we connect so many small sensors. And how do aggregate them? So there is apprehension, at the same time, also, the thing that is a big market, when we come across the field and user, we talks about like thousand and 10,000 devices to be connected. So the volume is there. For the price point.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, and one thing I’ve heard mentioned is this kind of concept called small satellite concept for IoT. Can you just for our audience’s sake explain exactly what it means when we’re talking about small satellites as it relates to the industry?
– [Raghu] I can go ahead with that. I think the small satellite, when you talk about, they’re talking about CubeSat. CubeSat who is the startup maybe five years ago as a university project, and this becomes standardized over a time. And then, you also have now SpaceX sort of came in and provided the launch, access very affordably now, so as a result, the small satellite industry has taken up. So it is all CubeSat launched on SpaceX or a similar launch vehicle for a very affordable cost. So that provide the entire capital needed for a constellation, reduction by factor of maybe 50 or we don’t know because a Iridium constellation could have cost you maybe billion or so, where the constellation on the CubeSat could cost you maybe a hundred million or so. So, at least factor of 10.
– [Ryan] Absolutely, and Oscar, let me ask you this question, and Raghu you can jump in afterwards, as well. There’s a couple different terms that have been thrown out in conversations that I’ve had. So we have satellite IoT and then we have SatCom, SatCom I feel like is something that kind of gets mixed in, can you talk about what the differences and kind of the uses and values of each and kind of how we should be thinking about them as from a terminology standpoint?
– [Oscar] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes, absolutely. When you have the SatCom, you are talking a specific for communication, internet or private networking with a big bandwidth. When you are talking with sat IoT, you are using a small bandwidth for a small volume of data, normally message. So this is totally different. Many people don’t believe that it’s possible to transmit information without internet, of course yet, okay? Of course yet, so depending the type of needs for the industrial devices is neutral sensor, as per Raghu commented, you need to use a SatCom or sat IoT, depends. This is the big difference, the volume of data.
– [Ryan] Absolutely. Raghu, anything you to add there?
– [Raghu] I think that’s correct. I think satellite IoT is part of the SatCom as a broad umbrella, but when people talk about SatCom they talk about HiSat, where you can basically do one megabit to 10 megabits, so in gigabits of data. So that is a difference. One is more reliable, other one is maybe short data burst application. Instead of continuity application, there is many differences between the traditional SatCom and satellite IoT, but. One of them is basically narrowband IoT and more, I would not call it broadband, but more wider band in SatCom, so.
– [Ryan] Well. Can you elaborate a little bit on the satellite narrowband concept, kind of what that is and kind of the, how people should be thinking about how it’s applicable?
– [Raghu] Yes, I think satellite narrowband basically talking about few bytes of data collecting the sensors and sent out go in the satellites in over the sky. It’s not a continuous com communication it is a short data burst. So that means all the sensor data is accumulated at one point and thus when satellites flying over the sky you just basically. Send it out. So that’s a very simple and very effective communication, and also, it can be very cheap and affordable. And that’s what Skywalker consellation is trying to do.
– [Ryan] Okay, makes sense. Oscar, let me ask you this. When we’re thinking about the satellite IoT space, which markets do you think are going to benefit the most from satellite IoT scaling? And then on the other side of that, or I guess connected to that, what use cases do you feel like are going to be leading the way, or have we already seen traction when it comes to satellite IoT deployments?
– [Oscar] Yeah, great, great question. But in fact, we are addressing where we have a very big volumes of sensor, okay? So as you open the market boxes you can find something, for example, in the agribusiness, the agriculture sector with many type of sensor in the land, and for example for the utilities, water companies, electricity companies. For example, how many of rural power measurement, electricity meters do we have in some countries? Thousands of thousands, and some countries of millions, and looking for the agribusiness. How many of land sensor, temperature sensor, weather sensor or humidity sensors that we have? Millions. So that’s the market with a high, high, very big potential. In a short time.
– [Raghu] Raghu, anything from your perspective, that you see as a kind of tag onto that as far as. Where are we gonna see.
– [Ryan] The most value initially?
– [Raghu] So that’s correct, I’m right. So humans are trying to, basically, get everything smart. Smart grid, smart agriculture. Smart water resources, climate, carbon sequestration. So there are many applications we can think about. The question is, “What information can collect it?” But what you can do with that information To basically give back and do better. If agriculture, for example, if you can do the soil moisture or the phosphorus acidity, then we can, basically, now tell the farmer what fertilizer they should use when going to harvest, then that is a big contribution to the agriculture. So what, when we are talking about IoT, basically enable that smartness in every industry? It’s not only agriculture, animal tracking. Meter reading, there’s many application, endless.
– [Ryan] Now, when a company is kind of exploring options, when it comes to connectivity for a solution, what makes a use case more ideal and a good fit for satellite IoT? And then at the same time, what things maybe don’t make it as good of a fit, like from a requirement standpoint for a solution to be successful? Like how should people be thinking about how satellite either does or does not potentially fit with what they’re trying to build as a connectivity option?
– [Raghu] I can try that. I think, preferred choice for anybody for connectivity is terrestrial. Okay?
– [Ryan] Okay.
– [Raghu] And terrestrial today covers only 15 to 20 percent of the entire Earth, okay? And now the humanity’s looking at the resources using any resource and every resources that globally available, okay? So you are talking about like 80 percent of the land mass is not reachable by terrestrial. So satellite definitely play a role, okay? And so, the second thing is the cost. So the asset that you are trying to monitor or the resource that you’re trying to monitor, is it worth spending how much money? It comes down to that. For a user. So for example, if you have to basically have a shipping line or logistic supply, it’s no brainer that you have, IoT is necessary, satellite IoT is much more, because it’s going across the world. So, but, when you come. To agriculture or maybe other things, the people are questionable, because the adaptation is real slow, because they don’t see the value unless a one season or two season they can figure out, “Okay, the ability adding value.” Yeah. So there is that mentality among the customers.
– [Oscar] Yes, just to compliment. Yeah. It’s totally correct. The view, and just to compliment Raghu comment, it’s very important in IoT project, the IoT solution is not only the technical solutions, you need to have the business case to support the technical part. This is the most important things. Many people are forgetting that each IoT project you need to have the business case. To make viable. To make sense the project, okay? This is the Cube success factor.
– [Ryan] Yeah, I agree. I think regardless of the technology that’s involved the business case and making sure that that exists. There’s buy-in from those in the organization that are gonna make the decision, and that you can then see the ROI, and that kind of ties back in, because obviously the connectivity has a cost, so the cost plays into the ROI, to justify getting these projects to scale, basically seeing that success early, and if you don’t have those, that kind of alignment with the ROI, the internal stakeholders, as well as the business case, that doesn’t matter how good of a solution. It could be, it’s just not gonna go anywhere. But the demand, I feel like is going to continue to grow for satellite, especially, because bringing connectivity to rural areas and solutions that require that. So you mentioned kinda agricultural use cases, there is supply chain asset tracking, where things are going to be moving through areas with less connectivity and finding a way to ensure visibility across the entire cyber spectrum. So, it’s a very interesting space. And one of the questions I wanted to ask you prior to us wrapping up today is, given where we are now, where do you see kinda the future of IoT? Let’s look at it like in the next 12 months and then beyond that, what does that kind of look like? What should we be excited about? What stands out to you all? And Oscar, let’s start with you and then Raghu, you can follow it up.
– [Oscar] Yeah, yeah, absolutely. The IoT market, in specific, the satellite market, will be consolidate. You can hear many things about new startup, new another company, many companies, some of them will succeed, but more of them will be fail. So at the end of the day. We have many potential option, but let’s wait maybe two years or three years, many things will changed. But absolutely, we’re in the middle of revolution, Ryan. What do you believe, Raghu?
– [Raghu] I think, for me, there are two perspective. One is, I think satellite cannot exist alone, it has to come up with a hybrid solution. So you have to, basically, we are implementing a network in Oscar, Oscar is implementing, where is a hybrid solution. So we have to basically, because at all, terrestrial is pretty much there, everywhere, almost everywhere the humans reach, and there’s remote areas we cannot reach. So the hybrid connectivity is very important. Then the question is, when come to hybrid connectivity, right? Now, satellite uses a different protocol than terrestrial. If you are using 3G, 5G. Then satellite is using UHF or L-band, S-band, there’s no standardization. So industry has to move to standardization, so that the ground GIPSY set has to be corrected. For example, Apple now is saying that they can do direct to devices on L-band. Then Starlink is saying they are going to also provide direct to device solutions. So everybody’s sort of working towards a very different solution, but what I believe the future will hold into standardization of the devices. So I think the 3GPP could, basically, embracing the satellite, could be the big thing, and there are people actually moving on that direction.
– [Ryan] Do you think standardization is gonna be one of the biggest factors to kind of helping increase growth in this space and adoption?
– [Raghu] Definitely, definitely. Because standardization basically makes the ground. Because if we were to, basically charge a $20 for a device. You really have to bring the standardization, so that is the issue. We have to basically make the same standardization that the phone phone companies today. If we are like 20 companies before, now only two companies predominantly, Android or Apple. Yeah, right. So you have to bring a standardization and I think 3GPP is doing, the cellular company standard, they’re doing a great job, basically bringing satellite into the play, so that you can. Interoperate between terrestrial as well, satellite, that should be the five years down the train.
– [Ryan] Gotcha, yeah. That’s fantastic insights. Last thing I wanna ask, so if I’m listening to this as a member of our audience and looking to explore further about the fit of satellite IoT into a potential solution, I either have developed or am developing, what’s the best advice you have for them, how to kind of go about considering, how to make the right decision on satellite IoT being a fit or not?
– [Raghu] As a customer or user or?
– [Ryan] As a sorry, yeah. As a company looking to adopt a solution. And basically evaluating different connectivity options. What should be the main drivers for whether this is the right thing or not?
– [Raghu] Yeah, you have to say what percentage of your devices or assets. And the remote area and no connectivity. So that would be actually the first point, where you want to say, “Okay, look, I’m 20 percent of my assets are in the fielding, the mining or in the meter reading or the gas pipeline.” “I’m not able to basically monitor those things.” The second thing comes into picture is, how much is it going to cost? So what we are doing in Skywalker, and basically, a cost of unimaginable, very low cost. Okay? And I think. We can make sure any business case that has at least 20 percent of their assets outside of the cellular coverage, I think we can provide a solution that could basically help them adopt very quickly.
– [Ryan] Mm-hmm, Oscar anything to add there?
– [Oscar] Exactly, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s totally key to the customer or the user, to find what are the business indicator they need. What is the real information they need? Because many people forget and try to send many, many of information, and at the end of the day they use less than one percent of the information. So this is key. To define the correct technology. Okay? This is extremely important.
– [Ryan] I absolutely agree. I think there’s so many different pieces that play into an IoT solution and making sure. That each component is optimized for your solution, otherwise you incur different costs, you have different experience from a usability standpoint, connection standpoint, you name it. And that all those things contribute to success or not, in those early stages, which help you get to kind of scale and success, which is where we all want the projects to get to. Last thing before we finish here today and I’ll let you all go. For audience who wants to learn more about this topic, wants to, maybe, follow up with questions, dive into kind of what HEAD Aerospace is doing, what’s the best way that they can reach out, learn more, kind of connect further?
– [Raghu] I think they can contact Oscar. Oscar can leave the email. I think we can in your podcast. And I think that’s the best way to reach us, on HEAD Aerospace. And if somebody wants more consulting work, they can use my email and reach out, so I’m happy to help them. Build a business case, so.
– [Ryan] Great, well both of you, thank you so much Oscar, Raghu for taking the time. Very popular topic these days. And it was fantastic to have you both on to share your insights. Very similar, but also coming from different angles. I know you’re from the consulting side, from the HEAD Aerospace side, but I think the commonality here is that, it’s a very big and a successful, or sorry, it’s a big and exciting space to be in and to pay attention, too. For the industry, lots of potential here. We still have a ways to go, it seems like. The consolidation side, the standardization side, like you mentioned, but we’re starting to see more and more adoption, and I think once we do that and we see successes to kind of roll across the board, we’re gonna start to see that adoption even skyrocket further. So thank you all for taking the time and I appreciate your insights and our audience, I think, is gonna really enjoy this one.
– [Raghu] Thank you, thank you, Ryan.
– [Oscar] Thank you, thank you, Ryan.
– [Ryan] All right everyone, thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notifications, so you get the latest episodes, as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.