Skylo Partners with Sony Semiconductor Israel to Deploy 5G-Ready Narrowband-IoT Connectivity over Satellite

Altair Semiconductor

Skylo, maker of the world’s most affordable and ubiquitous network that connects any machine or sensor, today announced a partnership with Sony Semiconductor Israel (Sony, formerly known as Altair Semiconductor). With the partnership, Skylo and Sony are the first to develop and deploy cellular IoT chipsets (branded “Altair”) that can connect via geostationary satellites and that leverage the standardized, 5G-ready, NB-IoT protocol. The partnership also makes significant contributions to 3GPP future specifications, which will help standardize and accelerate the adoption of NB-IoT over satellite. In addition, this innovative new use of Sony’s Altair cellular IoT chipsets dramatically reduces the cost for IoT applications to connect via traditional satellite networks; until the launch of this solution, satellite connectivity was cost-prohibitive and required custom-built protocols.

Skylo, which was founded in late 2017 by foremost researchers including Dr. Andrew Kalman, is building an efficient, global NB-IoT network over satellite for millions of presently unconnected devices, machines, and sensors. Sony Semiconductor Israel is a leading provider of cellular IoT chipsets. Through this partnership, both parties have extended existing cellular IoT chipsets to communicate directly over Skylo’s hosted satellite network.

“For industries with assets deployed all over the globe — including marine vessels, vehicles, and industrial equipment — having access to a ubiquitous fabric of carrier-grade, affordable IoT connectivity that is enabled by Sony’s Altair cellular IoT chipsets is a game-changer,” said Dr. Andrew Nuttall, Skylo’s co-founder, and CTO. “This partnership ensures our ability to quickly scale the manufacturing and deployment of connector Skylo Hubs to our customers worldwide.”

“We are glad to collaborate with Sony Semiconductor Israel on this important technological breakthrough, which provides an entirely new connectivity method for IoT for customers around the world and contributes greatly to the development of future 3GPP standards,” said Moshe Noah, Vice President of Engineering at Skylo.

“We are excited to work with Skylo and launch an entirely new IoT category for industrial machines,” said Dima Feldman, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Sony Semiconductor Israel. “We’re impressed by the innovative way that Skylo has extended our chip functionality over satellites to expand the connectivity reach to the most remote locations. We look forward to helping Skylo bring billions of sensors online for the first time.”

“In addition, the Altair field-proven, ultra-low-power, and ultra-small chipset solutions are ideal for the type of data exchange for industrial use cases,” added Feldman.

This new geostationary satellite connectivity is a technological breakthrough for Skylo. Any customer who is building IoT into their remote businesses can use familiar technologies like Bluetooth and WiFi in order to connect existing sensors to Skylo Hub. Those IoT sensors are already programmed for these communications protocols. Adding Skylo’s satellite connectivity is a seamless extension for customers that, in addition to terrestrial networks, can now use satellite connectivity, virtually in any place on the planet. In addition, because Sony’s Altair cellular IoT chipsets are mass-produced for terrestrial cellular networks, Skylo can affordably manufacture the Skylo Hub and pass along that savings to its customers.

Skylo is launching commercially this year over South Asia and can be accessed using the Skylo Hub, a portable satellite NB-IoT antenna terminal. The Skylo Hub costs less than $100 USD and integrates seamlessly with existing machines & sensors. The Skylo Network is hosted on existing geostationary satellites and enables immediate connectivity for customers without the need to add new infrastructure in space. Skylo is venture-backed by leading investors in telecom and space, including SoftBank Group, Boeing HorizonX, Innovation Endeavors, and DCM Ventures.