Skylo Network illustration (Source: Skylo)

Skylo rides into satellite IoT with low pricing, lots of cash

If anyone had doubts pricing for satellite IoT services are headed downward, new entrant Skylo put them to rest. Leveraging existing Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, Skylo says the starting price for service will be as little as a dollar per “hub” per month, with its hardware costing under $100.  The company announced it has raised a total of $116 million to date, with a whopping $103 million in its Series B round.

“Skylo envisions a world where connectivity for machines, sensors and devices is as ubiquitous as the sky,” said Skylo co-founder and CEO Parthsarathi “Parth” Trivedi. “This low-cost, global fabric of connectivity for machine data will be transformative for entire industries.” 

Skylo says it has successfully built and proven its IoT technology in commercial field trials with enterprise and government customers, including “customers… in a range of industries including automotive, railways, agriculture and maritime.”

Connectivity to Skylo is established through the Skylo Hub, a self-installed satellite terminal in an 8 inch by 8 inch form factor (depth not described).  The hub leverages off-the-shelf hardware, cellular components, an onboard battery and the NB-IoT protocol with sensors for geolocation and acceleration along with hotspot support for WiFi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee connectivity.  Built into the Hub is an electronically-steered flat panel antenna produced on the same production lines as cellular equipment.

Local IoT and Android devices connect through the Hub via wireless protocols, with data routed through the Hub into the Skylo Network – basically a GEO communications satellite relaying the information into the cloud, with an optimized (and proprietary) method of efficiently transmitting data.  Customers will access information and manage their Hubs through the Skylo Data Platform, with a Skylo API available for power users looking for more detailed customization and integration with their own applications.

Founded in 2017, Skylo plans to scale its customer implementations in India and other emerging markets, with its service commercially available “later this summer.” The company is in commercial trials with users in the U.S. and “other world regions” for future launches and market expansion.  It currently has offices in San Mateo, Calif., Bangalore, India, and Tel Aviv, Israel, and is growing the team globally to support its fast-growing customer base.

Skylo raised $13 million in its Series A round co-led by DCM and Innovation Endeavors and joined by Moore Strategic Ventures.  The Series B round raised $103 million, lead by SoftBank Group and joined by all the existing investors.

Company officials wouldn’t provide details on the satellite spectrum being used or go into specifics on pricing beyond the initial $1 per Hub per month, saying more details would be released later.  It also wasn’t clear how Skylo coverage would be affected at extreme latitudes, where GEO satellite connectivity comes more challenging, and at the poles, where there is no geosynchronous coverage.  Cubesat constellations will continue to have an advantage as users move towards the poles.

Limited to no coverage in extreme climates is likely to be a minor flaw off-set by the large amount of money Skylo has raised.  And unlike the current crop of IoT cubesat, Sklyo doesn’t have to build and launch its own satellites so it will be able to focus its funding on sales, marketing, and producing its end-user hardware.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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