A number of companies from across world plan to build networks of several thousand satellites each to enable access to the Internet from any point on Earth. These satellites will be stationed in low Earth orbit.
If these plans are put into practice, the global Internet infrastructure will acquire a whole new dimension. This would have far-reaching consequences for Internet access, the security and resilience of Internet infrastructure, and power relations in global Internet governance.
The home countries of the leading companies – above all the US, followed by China – would have extensive potential for political influence. They would be able to control, at the level of the Internet’s global infrastructure, the worldwide flows of information.
Hence the need to develop global oligopolies, the other a form of politically regulated global competition.
Global political decision-makers should use regulations and public funding to work towards a future Internet infrastructure that is secure and reliable. The basis for this is the redundancy and diversity of the underlying technology. To this end, the new satellite constellations can be an important part of an appropriate mix of technologies.
It would be both politically and economically desirable for every country to build its own constellation.
Shaping the future of Information and Communication in Space.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is arguably one of the most exciting and revolutionary technological developments of the internet age. It is generally agreed that the IoT is a network of cyber-physical devices comprising embedded electronics, sensors/actuators, software and network connectivity, enabling such devices to collect and exchange data over the internet. Current estimates are that there will be more than 25B IoT devices (some estimates call for more than 50B devices) deployed by 2020.
The current IoT leverages existing wired and wireless network infrastructures for communications and control. However, as IoT devices continue to proliferate in parallel with higher data rate communications and data services, these existing networks will become increasingly stressed and congested, particularly in remote and underserved regions of the world. Consequently, there has been a renaissance in interest and investment in space – and suborbital-based high-data-rate communications networks –the internet of space. These networks will have global impact on humanity by delivering high bandwidth information to every part of the world. The figure below shows a conceptual European communications ecosystem leveraging a satellite backbone in parallel with the existing wireline infrastructure.
Sensing and Sensor Networks
Geographic information systems
Machine to Machine (M2M)
Body Area Networks
Satellite and Optical Communication
Web Services and analytics
Clustering and classification
Internet of Things
Agents and Multi-agent Systems
Context-aware pervasive systems
Emergency and safety systems
Mobile Adhoc Networks
Open Spectrum Solutions
Software defined networking
Network mobility management
Antennas and propagation
QoS and Scheduling
- Vehicular Networks
High Performance Computing
Bioinformatics and Bio-Inspired Computing
Security and Privacy
Mobile and Wireless Security
Denial of service protection
Monitoring and surveillance
Privacy and data protection
Internet Of Space Telecom Applications
Satellite communication will play a significant role in 5G and beyond as a complementary solution for ubiquitous coverage, broadcast/multicast provision, aeronautical & maritime communications, emergency/disaster recovery, and remote rural area coverage.
There are several use cases where standard terrestrial coverage is either not present or possible, making satellite systems uniquely positioned to provide a solution to bridge this gap. By 2025 there will be more than 100 High Throughput Satellite (HTS) systems using Geostationary (GEO) orbits but also mega-constellations of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, delivering Terabit per second (Tbps) of capacity across the world.
New cost-effective system architectures as Starlink (SpaceX), LightSpeed (Telesat), Oneweb, O3B (SES) systems should be considered as a major impact in the 5G infrastructure. Beside these ones during the 1Q21 Lockheed Martin’s space division announced a strategic interest agreement with satellite start-up Omnispace “to explore jointly developing 5G capability from space.”
5G wireless technology promises to deliver performance upgrades across the entire telecommunications industry. The purpose of the 5G network is to deliver faster speed and sustain a highly concentrated number of devices. This new infrastructure will transform the entire telecom industry.
The current 5G implementation process is ongoing, but in its early stages. Major mobile carriers already are rolling out the 5G network, although there will be a gradual transition from the 4G LTE. With the early stages of implementation of 5G beginning in 2019 and 2020, there will be several opportunities for transformation over the next decade.
Another goal of 5G is to support the expansion of devices comprising the Internet of Things (IoT)more devices will be able to transmit data without causing performance issues.
Driverless cars and autonomous vehicles are a related technological category that stand to benefit from 5G, as the demand for an interconnected transportation system rises. Maintaining fast software downloads such as GPS mapping routes will be critical for a system of connected cars.
Deep 5G impact is forecasted in the satellite ecosystem with close to 10 million active units by 2029. Beyond the obvious use cases, like Cellular Backhaul and Trunking, a wide spectrum of applications will experience accelerated demand from 5G, including IoT, Private 5G for Corporate Networks, Mobility or even more conservative users like Gov/Mil.
“While 5G use cases generate a lot of hype, one must not underestimate the transformative power of 5G in how satellite networks are designed,. “Incorporating and standardizing technologies like SDN/NFV or Cloud, 5G Network Management System will be at the core of how future satellite networks are built, offering the scale and flexibility to optimally operate future VHTS, constellations and software defined satellites under standardized service orchestration.”
Internet Of Space IOT Applications
An NSR report released last month estimates the Machine to Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) via satellite market to reach US $12.4 Billion from 2019-2029 with small satellites driving growth.
Lower price points will unleash unaddressed use cases. Higher volumes will likewise lead to higher ARPUs, changing the overall demand dynamics of numerous verticals. That is not to say that MSS and VSAT offerings will lose their competitive edge or role in the marketplace. On the contrary, these longstanding platforms will continue to play an enduring role in the IoT growth story.
Key growth verticals to watch include
Agriculture and Construction will see the strongest increases.
The more traditional vertical segments, notably Transportation & Cargo, along with Energy and Maritime, provide a solid revenue base.
Not everything is rosy, however. Apart from the challenges posed by COVID-19, funding for small satellite programs, maturing regional or country markets, regulatory challenges, and other macroeconomic factors can all inhibit market growth.
One thing remains certain, IoT is an integral part of enterprise networks and consumer needs, requiring satellite’s ubiquity, instant infrastructure, and network simplicity advantages as part of its core.
In a survey amongst 20 new companies planning to launch small satellite constellation focus in IoT, two key characteristics among all the players are seen as low cost data collection terminals and low-cost bandwidth.
Internet of Space Things
Space-based cyber-physical system integrates with reconfigurable multiband transceiver and antenna
Internet of Space Things (IoST), a cyber-physical system that integrates on-the-ground data and satellite information to enable a wide range of applications.
The space-based network leverages software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) to control and manage a system of miniaturized satellites and ground-based sensing devices.
Deployed in the exosphere, an ad hoc network of satellites plays a central role in the system, serving not only as the network infrastructure but also as passive and active sensors.
A novel network architecture provides fine-grained control over the system hardware, improving resource utilization and simplifying management. The system enables programmable control over the physical, link, and network layers of the CubeSats and the sensing devices on the ground. Security is built into the IoST architecture as well as delivered as a service to protect the availability, integrity, and privacy of all connected resources and information.
A key enabling feature is a reconfigurable multiband transceiver and antenna array that increases throughput of satellite communication networks and enhances the spectrum usage efficiency in both ground-satellite and satellite-satellite links. The innovative design supports multiband wireless communication at microwaves, millimeter-wave, and terahertz band frequencies. The integration of the transceivers with the electronically reconfigurable antennas leads to small form-factor front-ends, boosting network capacity and enabling transformative applications such as Internet service in remote or underserved regions and intelligent global transport management.
Comprehensive: Provides a fully integrated cyber-physical system that allows for active sensing, passive sensing, and data communications
Robust: Offers a dynamic and scalable network configuration with a centralized control that enables and simplifies data aggregation
Cost effective: Permits highly differentiated networking capabilities to be integrated and deployed over the same network infrastructure, using CubeSats to decrease costs
Flexible: Connects physical objects, vehicles, appliances, and devices to a diverse set of on- and near-Earth endpoints (e.g., terrestrial, underground, underwater)
Secure: With security built into the IoST architecture, manages traffic from disparate services with differing security profiles to protect the availability, integrity, and privacy of all connected resources and information.
Potential Commercial Applications - In-space backhaul for data reporting and forwarding between CubeSats and/or ground infrastructure
Internet service in underserved or disrupted regions
Terrain and asset monitoring
Global transport management
Deep space exploration
Background and More Information
Satelites are a promising solution for future satellite communication networks because of their low costs and short deployment cycle. Currently, CubeSats communicate at conventionally allocated satellite communication frequencies. However, with the increase in the number of CubeSats, CubeSat-enabled communication systems, and many new use cases, new spectrum bands and more efficient spectrum usage are needed.
The proposed IoST is an integral solution to enhance and complement the functionalities of future wireless communication networks.
Figures 1 - System architecture overview
To shed light on the Internet Of Space, SFO invites major companies to participate in the Internet Of Space roundtable.