Inmarsat revenues dip; wins Skylo IoT connectivity

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Inmarsat has agreed to provide the capacity backbone to deliver the Internet of Things (IoT) systems of Skylo, a satellite-based narrow-band IoT specialist.

The agreement pairs the UK-based Inmarsat’s satellite network with Skylo’s IoT services for connecting machines and sensors. It will, the duo claim, provide “even the most remotely located application users with real-time, actionable insights” and at “disruptively affordable rates”. The plan costs quoted by Skylo can start as low as $1 a month.

The news came alongside Inmarsat’s financial numbers for 2020. Overall the operator’s revenue fell back 7.9 per cent compared to 2019 and not helped by the Covid-caused reductions in capacity traffic. US governmental business grew 10.1 per cent. Inmarsat is now privately held (by a consortium led by Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus).

Inmarsat and Skylo say their new service will be the “world’s first commercial narrowband IoT over satellite solution”, connecting diverse machines and sensors in remote areas, at sea, or in dense metropolitan areas.

The Palo Alto-based Skylo cites users receiving continuous coverage to send and receive critical two-way messaging, alerts, and continuously transmit sensor data. For example, this could include location data, soil moisture, soil pH and temperature levels. Or, in a maritime context, knowing in real time, the fuel levels in the tanks of a fleet, the location of the ships deployed, fishing zones and meteorological reports.

The Skylo system will debut in India through in-country partner BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd), an Indian government owned telecommunications service provider. Expansion plans will be announced “later this year”.

Rajeev Suri, Inmarsat’s CEO says: “Inmarsat’s industry-leading L-band network provides a unique capability for enabling the billions of connected IoT devices in India and across the world that are being deployed at an extraordinary speed. We are delighted to work with Skylo to provide the IoT fabric that matches their ambition.”

Japan’s SoftBank is an investor in Skylo having put $103 million into the business.


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