Satellite IoT provider Myriota, pronounced “Me-re-ota” and based in Adelaide, Australia, is expanding out of its Pacific footprint and plans to offer its service in North America in the near future.
“We have [spectrum licensing] in Australia and New Zealand [today],” said Myriota co-founder and CEO Dr. Alex Grant. “We are going through the process in the United States and Canada.” Grant indicated a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing was or would soon be in the commentary period and he expects to have a positive answer by the end of the year.
The Myriota solution consists of an integrated system including nanosatellites, a Myriota module to be integrated with a device/thing, and a cloud service where data is received and processed. Devices communicate directly to passing satellites overhead – “direct to orbit” as Grant calls it.
Included in the roughly 21 x 40 x 4 millimeter Myriota module is the company’s low-power RF silicon to provide VHF/UHF connectivity, a temperature sensor, and an ARM processer, plus pin interfaces for data connectivity to a device. Users will also have to supply a GPS chip, such as the uBlox M8 series, for positioning information.
The module isn’t cheap, costing around $50 in quantity, but is easy to connect to a device. “It’s fairly easy to put together,” said Grant. “You can go onto GitHub, get our SDK, get the development board for OEMs to get proof of concept and transmit to the satellite within a few hours.” The development board includes an integrated GPS chip and is powered by a standard pair of AA batteries.
Myriota has conducted “quite a lot” of customer trials and is now transiting into partnering with OEMs and third-party integration projects. Publicly announced projects using Myriota’s tracker technology span a range of demonstrated applications, including flow meters, weather stations, asset trackers, wind farm monitoring, and utility applications in urban and non-urban settings. Some devices including integrating Myriota’s solution are dual mode cellular/satellite devices, designed to leverage existing terrestrial wireless networks when available and then switching over to satellite data status updates when out of range.
Depending on the package of minutes, Myriota’s service can cost around a penny (US) per small message in volume with data plans available based on the volume of messages/data sent, allowing customers to mix and match between higher-use data needs and report-by-exception devices. The message length sent up to the satellite is 20 bytes, with data encased in a mixture of cryptography (256 bit AES), a unique identity, authentication, and a network timestamp. Adding GPS information requires an API call to the module, but inclusion of the data counts towards the 20 byte message payload.
Currently Myriota has a network of four satellites, but only one is actually “owned” by the company. The other three satellites are owned and operated by investor/partner exactEarth, a company operating a constellation of AIS ship tracking satellites, with Myriota services hosted onboard. The company expects to launch 3 more satellites later this year, with the 3U Cubesat-size (30 x 30 x 10 cm.) satellites being built by US firm Tyvak. Grant said Myriota plans to operate a constellation of at least 25 satellites, reaching that number by 2022, with options ranging from owning their own satellites to being hosted onboard other satellites.
To date, Myriota has raised around $17 million in a seed and A round. Investors include the venture capital arm of aerospace giant Boeing and SingTel’s Innovat8. The SingTel connection also ties into the company’s recent announcement with Optus Business to provide IoT connectivity across Australia, since Optus is a division of SingTel.
Myriota’s lean approach to IoT with sensors using low power and moving small amounts of data faces competition across several fronts. Combining the open LoRaWAN standard is gaining popularity, with Eutelsat, Fossa Systems, and Lacuna Space all using nanosatellites to directly pickup information from LoRa devices while Fleet Space Systems and Hiber connect to off-the-shelf LoRa devices through a local deployed gateway before sending to an overhead satellite.
Edited by Ken Briodagh