At the end of 2020, Inmarsat had 1.2m satellite IoT subscribers, whereas Iridium and Globalstar had 1.1m and 0.4m subscribers respectively.
The global satellite IoT subscriber base grew to surpass 3.4m in 2020, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of satellite IoT subscribers will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.8% to reach 15.7m units in 2025, according to a new research report from specialist IoT analyst firm Berg Insight.
Only about 10% of the Earths surface has access to terrestrial connectivity services which leaves a massive opportunity for satellite IoT communications. Satellite connectivity provides a complement to terrestrial cellular and non-cellular networks in remote locations, especially useful for applications in agriculture, asset tracking, maritime and intermodal transportation, oil and gas industry exploration, utilities, construction and governments. Both incumbent satellite operators and more than two dozen new initiatives are now betting on the IoT connectivity market. This new study covers a total of 38 satellite IoT operators.
Commenting on the finding of the reports, Johan Fagerberg, Principal Analyst at Berg Insight, said: Orbcomm, Inmarsat, Iridium and Globalstar are the largest satellite IoT network operators today. Originally a dedicated satellite operator, Orbcomm has transitioned into an end-to-end solution provider, delivering services on its own satellite network as well as being a reseller partner of Inmarsat and others. At the end of 2020, the company had 1.2m satellite IoT subscribers on its own and Inmarsats networks. At the same time, Iridium and Globalstar had 1.1m and 0.4m subscribers respectively.”
He added: “Other players with connections in the tens of thousands include for instance Kineis in France and Thuraya in the UAE. In addition to the incumbent satellite operators, a number of new initiatives have appeared on the market recently. Examples of some high-profile projects are Astrocast, CASC/CASIC, Fleet Space Technologies, Hiber, Ingenu, Kepler Communications, Lynk, Myriota, Skylo, Swarm Technologies (SpaceX) and Totum Labs. Many of these are based on low-earth orbit nanosatellite concepts. While most rely on proprietary satellite connectivity technologies to support IoT devices, several are starting to leverage terrestrial wireless IoT connectivity technologies including OQ Technology, AST SpaceMobile, Omnispace, Sateliot and Galaxy Space (3GPP 4G/5G); EchoStar Mobile and Lacuna Space (LoRaWAN); and Eutelsat (Sigfox).