A Complete Guide to Satellite IoT


Overview of Satellite IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged as a transformative force in technology, providing a network of physical interconnected devices that can collect and exchange data. The development of Satellite IoT has created a significant leap forward, extending IoT connectivity beyond terrestrial networks’ limitations.

Satellite IoT expands the potential of traditional IoT, which relies on communication protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRaWAN® and cellular networks, using satellites to extend coverage options. This approach is especially vital in remote or rural areas where land-based infrastructure is limited, unlocking a range of opportunities from real-time agricultural monitoring in isolated regions to maritime navigation.



This guide to satellite IoT targets a broad audience, including business leaders, IoT developers, and policy-makers. It explores satellite IoT’s fundamentals, highlighting its unique characteristics and the technology driving it, with a particular focus on direct-to-satellite LoRa®-enabled networks. The guide addresses the challenges satellite IoT overcomes and its practical applications across industries, blending technical insights with real-world examples. It serves as an essential resource for those looking to adopt this technology or stay informed of its innovations, aiming to demystify satellite IoT and underscore its importance in the digital era.


EchoStar Mobile’s Expertise

As a pioneer in satellite IoT, EchoStar Mobile is pushing the boundaries of communications. In 2021, it developed the first pan-European LoRa®-enabled IoT network in a licensed (S-band) spectrum. Made commercially available in November 2022, this network aims to address IoT coverage challenges and enable Massive IoT deployments in remote areas.

EchoStar Mobile’s commitment goes beyond offering innovative solutions; it’s about forging a connected future. Our team of experts, with their deep industry knowledge and technical proficiency, has been instrumental in forming valuable partnerships to develop end-to-end solutions that extend the benefits of existing IoT investments across a wide variety of sectors.

This guide draws on EchoStar Mobile’s expertise and experiences to promote a deeper understanding and adoption of satellite IoT.


satellite or terrestrial dual mode

Section 1: Understanding Satellite IoT

The Basics of IoT and Its Evolution

The Beginning of IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) began as a concept of connecting everyday devices to the Internet, transforming them into ‘smart’ devices. The technology started with simple applications, like home automation devices such as smart thermostats and intelligent lighting systems. It then evolved to benefit more complex industrial uses, such as IoT sensors in manufacturing equipment to monitor conditions like temperature, vibration, and sound for predictive maintenance or tracking the location and condition of goods throughout the supply chain.


Rapid Expansion and Market Trends

The IoT market has witnessed significant growth, driven by advancements in wireless technologies and the increasing demand for data-driven insights. A report from McKinsey revealed that the number of businesses that use IoT technologies grew from 13% in 2014 to 25% in 2019. However, this growth is expected to accelerate as more companies become aware of the benefits and understand the technology. More recent data predicts that the number of IoT devices worldwide will almost double from 15.1 billion in 2020 to more than 29 billion in 2030. These IoT devices are being used in many different verticals, from electricity, gas and water to retail, wholesale, transportation and storage.


Integration of Satellite Connectivity

Initially, IoT relied heavily on terrestrial networks (like cellular and Wi-Fi) for connectivity. However, these networks have limitations, especially in remote or underserved areas. This coverage gap led to the exploration and adoption of satellite connectivity to offer wider coverage and more reliable communication in challenging environments.

The uptake of satellite IoT has been significant, and it is forecasted to grow substantially. In August 2023, an NSR report revealed that the total number of satellite IoT in-service units will grow at a CAGR of 32% between 2022 and 2032, reaching at least 57.7 million. If factors such as collaboration between satellite operators and MNOs are more widespread, this figure could increase and reach up to 140 million.


What Makes Satellite IoT Unique

Satellite IoT stands apart from traditional IoT connectivity in several key ways. For example, it offers unique advantages in terms of global reach, reliable communication in remote areas, and specialised considerations for spectrum use and licensing:

Global Reach: Satellite IoT extends connectivity to the most remote corners of the planet, enabling data communication where terrestrial networks cannot reach. This aspect is crucial for applications like maritime tracking, oil and gas monitoring, and agriculture in remote areas.

Reliability in Extreme Conditions: Unlike terrestrial networks, satellite IoT provides consistent and reliable connectivity even in extreme weather conditions or geographically challenging locations.

Spectrum Use and Licensing: Satellite IoT can be operated on various spectrum, including:

  • Unlicensed bands for LoRa® (8686 MHz and 915 Mhz)
  • Licensed spectrum for NTN NB IoT (band 255 or L band and band 256 or S band)
  • Various VHF players
  • Unlicensed band for Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz)
  • Licensed 400 MHz

While satellite IoT does not require specific licensing per se, it is desirable to run it on a dedicated spectrum to minimise interference. Having licensed options available provides the opportunity for higher-quality communication.


Direct-to-Satellite LoRa® Technology

LoRa® (Long Range) technology is a wireless modulation technique designed for long-range, low-power communication. This technology is a key enabler in the IoT space, particularly for applications that require wide-area coverage and low bandwidth.

Integrating LoRa® with satellite technology offers several advantages:

Extended Coverage: It allows IoT devices to communicate directly with satellites, further expanding the reach of IoT networks.

Low Power Consumption: LoRa® is known for its low power requirements, making it ideal for IoT devices in remote locations with limited power sources.

Cost-Effectiveness: The combination of LoRa® and satellite technology provides an affordable solution for large-scale IoT deployments, especially in areas where investment in terrestrial infrastructure is not cost-effective

Several industries have begun to leverage direct-to-satellite® LoRa technology, such as EchoStar Mobile’s pan-European LoRa®-enabled IoT network, seeing significant improvements in operational efficiency and cost, data accuracy, sustainability and safety. Examples include environmental monitoring, smart agriculture, and logistics tracking across vast geographical areas.


The Promise of NB-IoT over NTN

With 3GPP Release 17, NB-IoT over Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) are promising significant advancements in the field of satellite IoT.

Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) refer to communication networks that use satellites or other non-earth-based platforms. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) over NTN, particularly with 3GPP Release 17 (one of their latest sets of standards), looks to be pivotal in extending IoT connectivity through satellites, targeting remote and underserved areas where terrestrial network coverage is limited or non-existent. It promises improved 5G integration and wider IoT reach.

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites equipped with a regenerative payload form part of the system architecture. However, it can also accommodate satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites.

NB-IoT over NTN technology is still emerging, facing challenges like signal strength over long distances, satellite-related Doppler effects, hardware requirements, interoperability and cost. The ecosystem, reliant on supportive satellite networks and device development, is yet to mature for widespread deployment. However, watch this space, as NB-IoT over NTN is likely to be a transformative connectivity technology in the future for global communications.


man looking at interactive chart in field

Section 2: The Technology Behind Satellite IoT

Satellite Networks for IoT

Satellite networks play a pivotal role in the Internet of Things (IoT), with three main types: Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), each offering unique advantages for IoT connectivity.

Low Earth Orbit (LEO): LEO satellites, situated between 160 to 2,000 kilometres above Earth, are optimal for real-time IoT applications like autonomous vehicle communication and disaster response due to their low latency. However, their limited coverage area necessitates a larger constellation for global reach.

Medium Earth Orbit (MEO): MEO satellites operate at altitudes of 2,000 to 35,786 kilometres and provide a balance between coverage and latency. They are well-suited for applications like maritime and aviation tracking, where broader coverage is beneficial, but some latency can be accommodated.

Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO): GEO satellites orbit at an altitude close to 35,786 kilometres, aligning with Earth’s rotation. They offer constant coverage but have higher latency. GEO satellites are ideal for broadcasting, communication services, and IoT applications where wider coverage outweighs latency concerns.


Hybrid Satellite/Terrestrial Solutions

Hybrid systems combine satellite networks’ extensive reach with terrestrial networks’ high bandwidth and lower latency. This combination enhances IoT applications requiring both wide-area coverage and high-data-rate transmission, utilising the strengths of both satellite and terrestrial networks to deliver reliable, efficient connectivity.


Direct-to-Satellite Connectivity

Direct-to-satellite connectivity enables IoT devices to communicate directly with satellites, eliminating the need for additional infrastructure. This capability benefits IoT applications in remote areas where terrestrial networks are limited. It simplifies deployment, scalability, and cost-efficiency, which are vital for Massive IoT adoption.

A significant advancement in this area is the integration of LoRa® (Long Range) technology, which uses chirp spread spectrum (CSS) modulation to provide low-power, long-range and secure communication. These benefits make LoRa® particularly valuable for IoT applications in isolated or challenging environments.

EchoStar Mobile’s launch of the first pan-European LoRa®-enabled IoT network in the licensed S-band spectrum marked a significant milestone. This network offers direct-to-satellite IoT connectivity suitable for numerous sectors, including, but not limited to, agriculture, environmental monitoring, and asset tracking.

The network employs the EM2050 module for LoRa®-based satellite IoT communication, delivering the benefits of long-range, low-power capabilities. The EM2050 is designed for easy integration into IoT devices, requiring no additional infrastructure for its data transfer. It supports real-time, bi-directional communication, enabling IoT devices not only to send data but also to receive commands or updates from the ground stations. This capability is crucial for applications that require immediate data analysis or timely response, such as environmental monitoring or emergency response systems.


Security and Reliability

Security is a top priority in satellite IoT networks, given the sensitivity of transmitted data.

The EM2050’s security protocols incorporate end-to-end security and automated key management. It uses a hardware Secure Element (SE) in the Semtech LR1120 chipset for secure key storage and management, and hardware-based cryptographic functions for enhanced data protection, all without human intervention in key transfers or device authentication.

Reliability is also paramount in satellite IoT, especially for critical applications where connectivity disruptions can have serious consequences. EchoStar Mobile’s pan-European LoRa®-enabled IoT network operates in the S-band spectrum, proven for its resilience in harsh environments and reliable performance in varying atmospheric conditions, features that bands like Ku and Ka cannot consistently offer.



Satellite IOT technology concept

Section 3: Challenges and Solutions

Addressing Common Challenges

Specific challenges have traditionally hindered the widespread adoption and implementation of satellite IoT, including the lack of standardised technology and mature enough ecosystem, the complexity of integration and operation, and the high costs associated with service delivery.


Lack of Standardised Technology

A significant challenge in satellite IoT has been the need for standardised technology. This need results in two primary issues: the absence of an economy of scale and the difficulty of achieving interoperability between satellite and terrestrial ecosystems. Without standardisation, creating interoperable solutions across various vendors in the same value chain, from chipsets to cloud services, is challenging. Additionally, the slow evolution of satellite-specific technologies has historically impeded successful integration with rapidly advancing terrestrial systems.


Complexity of Integration and Operation

Satellite IoT solutions have traditionally been complex to integrate and operate, leading to high device costs and the need for skilled engineering for maintenance and operation. This complexity has been a barrier to widespread adoption, especially in applications where cost-efficiency and ease of use are critical.


High Service Costs

The combined effect of non-standardised technology and complex integration has historically led to high service costs in satellite IoT. These costs have often made satellite technology unattractive for IoT deployments, especially compared to terrestrial alternatives.


Overcoming Technical Limitations

Several satellite service providers are developing products to overcome these technical challenges. For example, EchoStar Mobile has developed a comprehensive solution that addresses these technical challenges and enables widespread adoption for Massive IoT deployments.


Standardised Technology

EchoStar Mobile has made strides in addressing the standardisation challenge via its pan-European LoRa®-enabled network that enables direct device-to-GEO satellite communication. It selected LoRa® technology because it required no specific development and adhered to the standardised LoRaWAN® specifications endorsed by the ITU as a global standard for LPWAN. At the time, 3GPP NTN IoT technology was not yet fully developed and able to support a seamless ecosystem.


Minimising Complexity in Integration and Deployment

Using the EchoStar 21 geostationary satellite, coupled with LoRa® technology, EchoStar Mobile built a device-direct-to-satellite network to offer bi-directional, real-time connectivity to customers’ LoRa® IoT devices with no additional infrastructure required.

The use of small-footprint, low-power omnidirectional antennas, enables easier deployment. Furthermore, as these antennas are integrated into a plug-and-play module, integration with IoT devices is also much simpler.


Low Service Cost

By addressing the challenges of standardisation and complexity, cost-efficiency naturally also improves. Furthermore, EchoStar Mobile has designed service plans to meet the demand for efficient and affordable satellite IoT services. These plans are structured to be competitive, promoting the viability of Massive IoT deployments.


Enhancing the User Experience

EchoStar Mobile developed its pan-European LoRa®-enabled network also to enhance the end-user experience, addressing further requirements such as device footprint, battery consumption, cloud integration, affordability and interoperability.

Key aspects of its design include:


A Plug-and-Play Module

The EM2050 module enables effortless deployment of IoT devices anywhere, leveraging direct satellite coverage without any additional infrastructure needed.


Dual-Mode Connectivity

The EM2050 module facilitates dual-mode connectivity ((terrestrial 868/915 MHz and S-band satellite), easing the integration with existing networks.


Low-Power Consumption and Long-Range Capability

Leveraging LoRa® technology, the network can offer these critical benefits for IoT applications in remote areas.


Real-Time, Bi-Directional Data Transfer

The EM2050 module facilitates real-time, bi-directional connectivity to assets, enabling timely monitoring and decision-making.


Industry Standards Adherence

Compliance with industry standards like AT commands simplifies the integration of the EM2050 module into IoT devices.


Simplified Device Design

Integrating an omnidirectional, low-cost, small-footprint antenna in the EM2050 module eases mechanical design and usage.


Zero-Touch Device Provisioning

The service design includes a simplified claiming procedure for secure activation of a device in the EchoStar Mobile LoRa® network.


Native Cloud Integration

An API for native cloud integration ensures efficient data delivery.


Competitive Pricing Plans

EchoStar Mobile’s pricing structure is designed to be cost-effective, facilitating Massive IoT deployments.

By addressing the primary challenges of satellite IoT deployment through these innovations, EchoStar Mobile is paving the way for more widespread adoption of this technology.


Pylons using satellite iot

Section 4: Use Cases and Applications

Diverse Industry Applications

Satellite IoT is unlocking new possibilities in various industries, overcoming traditional network limitations and enabling uninterrupted, reliable connectivity and data-driven decision-making in remote and challenging environments. Here’s a brief overview of its transformative impact across various sectors:


Critical Infrastructure

In critical infrastructure management, such as power grids and transportation networks, satellite IoT enhances real-time monitoring, control and predictive maintenance, improving efficiency, safety and cost-savings and reducing downtime, particularly in remote areas.


Environmental Monitoring

Satellite IoT plays a crucial role in environmental protection, offering data collection for climate research and disaster management by monitoring parameters like air quality and water levels in inaccessible regions.



In agriculture, satellite IoT supports precision farming and livestock tracking, optimising resource use and improving yields, especially in vast, rural areas.



In the maritime sector, satellite IoT aids vessel and cargo monitoring and management, improving navigation safety and logistics management in open seas.



Satellite IoT offers enhanced transparency and efficiency for logistics and supply chains by tracking shipments and assets, reducing risks in far-reaching and remote area logistics.


Personal Tracking

For personal safety, satellite IoT enables reliable tracking and communication for individuals in off-grid locations, enhancing security for outdoor enthusiasts and remote workers.


Case Studies

EchoStar Mobile has partnered with innovative device manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators to bring IoT solutions that solve real-world challenges to market.

Here is an overview of five of our case studies:


Pipelines with valves using satellite iot

Monitoring Critical Infrastructure

ProEsys offers two innovative solutions that transform critical infrastructure monitoring: the Integrity and Vibration Monitoring Sensor (IVMS-SAT) and the CP-SAT IoT Cathodic Protection.

IVMS-SAT detects structural integrity and vibrations, mitigating damage from environmental conditions or physical attacks. Meanwhile, CP-SAT offers specialised, long-term monitoring for pipeline cathodic protection, with accurate local data analysis capabilities. Both solutions leverage our direct-to-satellite LoRa®-enabled network for seamless coverage in remote areas, providing real-time data access and remote programmability, significantly reducing the need for costly and time-consuming manual checks.


Dryad satellite iot device

Wildfire Detection

Dryad Networks offers a comprehensive wildfire detection solution using solar-powered sensors with AI, direct-to-satellite LoRa® connectivity, and cloud-based analytics tools. This end-to-end system enables early wildfire detection and forest health monitoring, playing a crucial role in prompt intervention, reducing economic damage and saving lives.


mountain biker using satellite iot for personal tracking

Personal tracking

The KIP2 Safety Beacon by APIK is designed as a personal tracking device, offering an unmatched recovery solution for individuals in remote locations. It features reliable coverage in diverse terrains, a push-button alert system for distress signals, and direct-to-satellite LoRa® connectivity to the FIND-R device with a 12 km range for rapid location by rescue teams. This all-weather, all-situation system provides unparalleled reassurance and safety for users in challenging environments.


woman conducting Soil moisture sensing

Soil moisture sensing

Dales Land Net Soil Monitor offers a versatile and cost-effective solution for real-time soil moisture and temperature monitoring, vital for applications ranging from crop and land management to addressing dam leakage and soil erosion. It features multi-layer readings down to 50 cm, frequent reporting, self-charging with solar panels, and dual terrestrial and satellite LoRa®-enabled connectivity to provide accurate and timely soil condition data for informed decision-making.


Smart Water Metering

Smart Water Metering

Leveraging our direct-to-satellite LoRa®-enabled network, Galaxy 1 is revolutionising its smart water-meter roll-out. By reducing the requirement for multiple, complex communication technologies and their surrounding expertise, its innovative solution is proving to be the way forward in preserving this precious resource.


Future Potential

The future of satellite IoT holds immense potential to revolutionise various industries. For example, in the coming years, we can anticipate groundbreaking applications in areas like autonomous transportation, where satellite IoT could enable more efficient and safer navigation in remote regions. In healthcare, remote patient monitoring in underserved areas could see significant advancements.

While EchoStar Mobile currently leverages GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit) satellites for its connectivity solutions, it is looking to encompass LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite constellations into its offering.

NB-IoT over NTN is an emerging connectivity technology that is very exciting, offering higher data rates and enhanced connectivity in remote and rural areas. However, compared to LoRa, battery consumption is increased. EchoStar Mobile developed its solution around LoRa as it was the best available technology at the time. However, as new technologies emerge, it will integrate them into its offerings.

Recognising that different solutions have their own advantages and disadvantages, EchoStar Mobile aims to provide a portfolio of technologies to offer the best possible customer experience for each unique use case, irrespective of the technological solution.

Additionally, integrating satellite IoT with emerging technologies like 5G and AI promises to unlock new levels of automation and efficiency in smart cities and industrial operations, paving the way for more connected, responsive, and sustainable environments.


shaking hands

Section 5: Getting Started with Satellite IoT

Implementation Strategies

The evolution of satellite IoT presents a unique opportunity for device manufacturers, OEMs, and system integrators to develop innovative products for end customers. The key is to partner effectively with satellite IoT providers who can facilitate the implementation of these products.

For instance, EchoStar Mobile has developed its EM2050-EVK Evaluation Kit to equip developers with the tools to test and develop IoT applications optimised for satellite connectivity. Such platforms allow system integrators to embed advanced satellite IoT modules like the EM2050 into end-user products and build bespoke solutions for specific user applications and requirements.


Partnering with Providers

Choosing the right satellite IoT provider is crucial. The ideal provider should offer not just the technology but also the support and educational resources needed to understand and leverage this technology effectively. Satellite providers like EchoStar Mobile are working to demystify satellite IoT, offering end-to-end support to simplify deployment processes and address misconceptions about cost and complexity.

When selecting a provider, look for those committed to nurturing a robust ecosystem and fostering collaborative environments, as exemplified by EchoStar Mobile’s partnership with the LoRa Alliance® and the formation of the LoRaWAN® Over Satellites Task Force. This initiative aims to adapt protocols for both satellite and terrestrial networks and addresses regulatory requirements, indicating a commitment to comprehensive, regulatory-compliant solutions. EchoStar Mobile will take the same approach with 3GPP NTN, seeking suitable partnerships to develop a seamless ecosystem for its customers. Having these partnerships and adopting the latest technologies, such as LoRa® and 3GPP NTN, enables EchoStar Mobile to be a one-stop shop for customers’ IoT connectivity needs.


Case for Early Adoption

With the staggering market growth in satellite IoT reported in the NSR report from August 2023, where the total number of in-service units was projected to expand at a CAGR of 32% from 2022 to 2032, the case for early adoption of satellite IoT is compelling. By promptly integrating satellite IoT into their operations, businesses can seize a competitive edge in this booming market. Early adopters will improve operational efficiency and sustainability while positioning themselves as innovative leaders at the forefront of a massive IoT expansion.



This guide to satellite IoT has navigated the innovative world of satellite IoT, from its fundamental concepts and unique advantages to transformative technologies like LoRa® and the cutting-edge solutions that are overcoming traditional challenges. It has explored its diverse applications across industries and the strategic importance of early adoption in a rapidly growing market.

Looking ahead, satellite IoT stands at the brink of a new era in global connectivity, poised to influence the technology landscape significantly. Its integration with emerging technologies promises to unlock unprecedented levels of efficiency, sustainability, and innovation, driving a future where limitless connectivity brings progress and possibilities.

Read Use Cases