March 6, 2023

The Satellite IoT Opportunity: Thinking Inside and Outside the Box

The Satellite IoT Opportunity: Thinking Inside and Outside the Box

By Michael Minchin, Product Manager, IoT, ST Engineering iDirect

Satellite IoT is coming of age. We’re moving into an era where the everyday technology that we use for work and play will be connected like never before and I, for one, am truly excited to see how it will transform our lives. In a world that is literally brimming with use cases, both established and emerging, IoT is set for quite a future. Just a quick look at the analyst forecasts bears this out. According to MarketsandMarkets, the Satellite IoT market is expected to grow from USD 1.1 billion in 2022 to USD 2.9 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 21.9% during the forecast period. Satellite technology is the only solution that delivers complete coverage for IoT enabling companies and organizations to reach places no other technology can. It’s important to grasp the enormous potential impact this will have across many market sectors.

Until recently, to fuel IoT applications, there’s been a reliance upon expensive L-Band or VSAT products delivering data rates much higher than necessary for IoT with cost prohibitive pricing. Industries such as oil and gas and mining have long used these services for example for SCADA, simply because they were the only ones available, but they’re not always cost-effective for infrequent low-medium network throughputs. Today, the emergence of iDirect’s IoT portfolio of low-cost, small form factor and data optimized Ku and Ka band solutions offers customers a much more data-efficient and cost-effective alternative.

Businesses are focused on improving their processes, automation and productivity to drive efficiency and lower costs. These requirements will be key to the acceleration of industrial IoT deployment. There is a vast opportunity across the market for Satellite IoT with organizations that are truly thinking out of the box to come up with interesting new ideas on how it to can help them improve their effectiveness. I’ve been asking our customers; What’s costing them money? Where can we help to find efficiencies? Where can we think outside of the box to help enhance their business? These questions have generated fascinating conversations and identified use-cases and solutions for their pain points using iDirect’s product portfolio.

Let’s dive deeper into a few key verticals that are seeking to adopt IoT solutions to enhance their productivity.

Satellite IoT Opportunity


The maritime market is looking to IoT to enable it to become more efficient. Satellite in maritime has traditionally been adopted by larger vessels such as cruise and container ships as big IoT users able to leverage data capacity from large VSATs already installed on board. Small fishing vessels however, that can’t afford VSAT connectivity and a large radome, still require a means of tracking the vessels, reporting their daily catch and access to messaging/voice capabilities. These vessels are increasingly being regulated by government bodies to ensure that overfishing doesn’t occur and this creates a huge opportunity for iDirect small-form-factor cost-effective Satellite IoT terminals due to the sheer number of vessels that are in operation.

Satellite IoT Opportunity


The Agri-Tech sector is seeing tremendous growth in IoT adoption with in-service units expected to grow at 34% CAGR over the next ten years. This fast-emerging vertical has given rise to smart farms using autonomous tractors and plant-level precision farming collecting sensor data to track weather conditions, soil quality, crop growth, livestock health and a plethora of other information. This data enables information-based decisions, optimizing returns and enabling farmers to have maximum control over farming processes, lowering production risks. It also helps with cost management and waste reduction, increased business efficiency, and better overall product and volume through automation. Read the press release on our early adopter, ARSAT, here.

Satellite IoT OpportunityTransport & Cargo

Transport & Cargo is the largest IoT sector accounting for 50% of all in-service units, however, IoT connectivity in this sector has always been at the mercy of terrestrial cellular data coverage. The iDirect IoT solutions solves for this by providing a hybrid solution delivering automatic backup to satellite where cellular data is not available.

And those cases that you haven’t even considered yet…

As well as more established use cases, I am hearing of many emerging and unusual ones. For example, I spent some time at a trade show recently and discussed use case in New Zealand where the Kiwi bird is under threat of extinction. The location of the Kiwi nests is known but they are too sparse and remote for viable physical monitoring. There is a problem with ferrets that steal the Kiwi eggs and due to the fact that they are flightless birds, they are also at risk from other predators. By placing an IoT sensor and low-cost small form-factor remote terminal at the nest information can be pinged back to HQ allowing the egg to be rescued and incubated to ensure that it doesn’t get eaten by a predator.

Another interesting use case was to count cattle on large farms that span many hectares. Today, a person is required to ride a horse or quad bike to count the cattle manually. IoT could eliminate this need and automate the entire process. By adding a small RFID chip to each animal and installing a satellite IoT terminal at each feeding station, the cattle will automatically be counted and geolocated as they feed. This also offers up other important data such as how often they are feeding.

It’s these kind of novel ideas for Satellite IoT that make it such an interesting area to be involved with – so many problems to solve!

Our IoT Solutions are cost effective for all use-cases from very low to medium data rate applications. ST Engineering iDirect serve mobility and fixed use cases with our family of compact, lightweight, flat panel, integrated modem antenna terminals. Dynamic terminals will automatically search for suitable beams allowing roaming to different satellites – that’s a unique offering in the market today. As our solution leverages customers’ existing infrastructure, it’s very easy to deploy and is cost-effective, enabling a rapid service launch. In addition, we have flexible XaaS propositions allowing customers to easily evaluate unknown IoT markets with minimal risk while, paying as they grow if desired into a full infrastructure offering. It’s a compelling solution for any service provider looking to expand into the IoT market.

I invite you to find out more. Check out Internet of Things (IoT) Connectivity – ST Engineering iDirect.