Satellite M2M (Machine to Machine) or IoT (Internet of Things) has some unique advantages over terrestrial M2M/IoT (mainly cellular operation) such as coverage, no need for roaming, inherent security that comes from the private network architecture and the possibility to get worldwide service offering.
The key problem with the satellite M2M/IoT service is mainly the cost of the connectivity. There are many players in the satellite M2M/IoT landscape but if you opt to get a low-cost terminal (few hundred dollars) from Iridium, Globalstar and such – the cost of the connectivity can get to many tens of dollars per Mbyte which is not acceptable for many applications.
With the introduction of new HTS and multi-beam satellites, the cost of the capacity decreased dramatically and as such prices of capacity in the $2-$4 per Mbyte become a reality. However – so far nobody has been able to demonstrate a very low-cost terminal (in the $100 range) that is capable of accessing this low-cost space segment.
The only way to achieve low cost and small size terminal is by a high level of integration. Technology is now within reach via recent developments achieved at SatixFy, to be able to provide low cost fixed and mobile terminals with a very low per Mbyte price, worldwide.

SatixFy Technology for IoT

SatixFy’s technology is implemented in its own developed chips and SoCs for both baseband modems and phased array antenna beamformers. The Phased Array Antenna is based on a unique technology, implemented in a Silicon chip that will enable digital beam steering, self-install capability, very small form factor, extremely low power consumption and low price derived from Silicon economics. Fixed and mobile terminals are expected at cost of ~$100 and ~$250, respectively. Such terminals will enable FSS operators to offer Mbyte capacities at a few dollar per Mbyte per month.
SatixFy chips (SX-3000, Low-power Baseband ASIC and ‘Beam-former” ASIC’) and terminal products are capable of utilizing available satellite frequencies including Ku and Ka-band capacity of FSS/ High Throughput Satellites (HTS). Our IoT/M2M terminals were designed to provide various wireless (E.g. WiFi, Zigbee, Bluetooth) and wired (e.g. GPIO, RS-232, LAN) interfaces that connect with various types of sensors for Transportation, Cargo, Gas and Oil, Energy, Security, HLS, Agriculture, Animals Tracking and many more.
This application note describes the relevant technology for the satellite M2M/IoT landscape.

The M2M/IoT Terminals

SatixFy is currently planning two IoT Terminals

Both terminals include the support of various IoT/M2M interfaces:

  • Several short range wireless connectivity interfaces (WiFi, Zigbee, Bluetooth, to be able to connect to wireless sensors distributed in a wide area and act as a store and forward device.
  • Several direct connectivity options (UART, GPIO, Ethernet-LAN, etc.’).

The terminal is naturally powered by a battery, possibly small solar panel, or the mains supply. The terminal will also include a GPS receiver and a Gyro embedded modules which are used for self-install or satellite diversity procedures.

Main features of SatixFy M2M/IoT System and Terminals

The low cost and small size PAA enable terminals for M2M / IoT at price point and size which substantially lower than competing products.

Self-Install

The use of electronically beam steering enables the terminal to automatically align itself to the satellite without the need for an expensive professional installation. Even in the case of a satellite change during the lifetime of the terminal, the terminal will be aligned to the new satellite electronically without the need to revisit the site.

Low Power

IoT/M2M terminals can be installed in remote and difficult to reach locations and should have low cost, self-sufficient power feed. In order to use low cost batteries and solar charger (if applicable). Low power is achieved in a combination of two factors: Remote terminal power modes and System Air interface architecture.
The IoT/M2M terminal is based on SatixFy’s Low-power baseband modem SoC (ASIC). The ASIC is optimized for low power consumption operation. The ASIC has several operational modes for transmit, receive and standby. All the circuitry which is not required in each mode is being turned off to minimize the power drain. While in operation the dynamic power consumption is optimized as well according to the use case (required symbol rate). The advanced power management enables the use of solar and battery operated devices. In order to utilize the power modes in an effective way the Air Interface operates the terminals in a power saving algorithm enabling the chips to operate at a very low duty cycle on a fixed receive frame grid to check if there is a need for a fully wake-up cycle, as shown in the figure below:

 

The SoC can act as a store and forward communication channel for sensors and wake up with traffic demand via data coming through interfaces to the sensors. The standby power is as low as few mW.

Waveforms for Extremely Low SNR operation

The small aperture antennas require a new approach for the Low SNR operation in receive and transmit modes. In this case, in order to meet the regulation requirements, SatixFy offers a unique spread spectrum waveform on both links.
SatixFy’s SX 3000 has a full implementation of DVB S2X VLSNR mode with SNR of -10 dB on both the forward and return channels and Software Defined Radio (SDR) mechanism enabling frame repetitions. This new waveform, which is called “ELSNR” (Extremely Low SNR), includes a complete set of MODCODs going to SNR of -25dB.In a satellite system with small antennas at the terminal side, the transit power spectral density of the terminal is limited by regulations in order to prevent interferences to adjacent satellites. In other words, the transmitted waveform is forced to be spread so the PSD meets the regulation masks. Typically in such systems, the combination of small antenna size and the spreading (which increases the bandwidth and thus increases the received noise), leads to extremely small SNR at the hub side.

In a satellite system with small antennas at the terminal side, the transmit power spectral density of the terminal is limited by regulations in order to prevent interferences to adjacent satellites. In other words, the transmitted waveform is forced to be spread so the PSD meets the regulation masks. Typically in such systems, the combination of small antenna size and the spreading (which increases the bandwidth and thus increases the received noise), leads to extremely small SNR at the hub side.
The extremely low SNR opens the opportunity to parallel transmission at a very low penalty in SNR, Thanks to the fact that relative to noise, each terminal contributes negligibly small interference.

The Hub and connection to the cloud

The IoT/M2M terminals network will be controlled and managed by a split architecture hub. The split architecture hub is based on “local Hub” and a “Cloud based Hub” infrastructure. A local hub consists of processing and control infrastructure that will be in charge of the Physical and MAC layers functionalities, and include mainly the hub transmitter and receivers. The hub transmitter and receiver cards are based on the SX-3000 ASIC. The Local Hub will have IP connectivity with the cloud (Internet).
All other higher communication layer processing will be done on the Cloud, implemented as a private/public cloud services residing at the remote server location, as shown in the figure below:

 

Public Cloud based Hub

The higher satellite communication system layers including manipulation of frames and packets, security, multicast groups, routing and QOS will be based on the standard of the shelf products as part of a public cloud service. The application level layers include access control, authentication, SLA policy (sensor/sensor type/customer dependent), device management and NMS, billing and big data analytics environments.

Example of Product Uses

On top of the main uses of M2M/IoT, the capability to build low-cost low-power satellite terminals opens the door for new application (on top of regular “meter like” applications) such as drones. Drones can be controlled and monitored by satellite beyond the line of sight (LOS), and also limited photos or even low rate video can be transmitted over the satellite infrastructure.

Conclusions

SatixFy M2M/IoT technology is unique in term of being able to use it’s own developed SoC in baseband and beamformer chips for low cost, low power terminals. SatixFy offers a line of fixed and mobile terminals including a complete cloud-based hub infrastructure to enable the operation, provisioning, and billing of a massive number of sensors on the satellite infrastructure. You are welcome to read more about our IoT products.