Less than a month after Spire Global purchased exactEarth and its minority share in IoT provider Myriota, Spire will dramatically expand Myriota’s service coverage with what the companies are calling “near real time connectivity.”
“Spire is designing a custom payload for its satellites to operate on the Myriota Network,” according to Spire, with the payload being software, not hardware in nature. “This payload will be deployed to 36 of Spire’s nanosatellites that are already in orbit, and is expected to launch starting April 2022. With the addition of these 36 nanosatellites, the Myriota Network will grow to a total of 44 satellites by the end of 2022.
“Through this, Myriota will be working to increase data transfer volume, allowing its customer’s devices to transfer kilobytes per day. After the data is captured by the satellites, it is expected that Spire’s technology will be used to transfer it to the ground within minutes.”
Myriota currently has 11 satellites picking up and delivering information to IoT things around the globe, a mixture of its own purpose built 3U cubesat spacecraft and software payloads running on a few exactEarth satellites. The company has designed custom silicon for IoT applications that is low-cost and have a long battery life.
“With high demand for the Myriota Network from our partners, who are rolling out products at an ever-accelerating rate, this agreement is a game changer for our business,” said Dr. David Haley, CTO and Co-founder, Myriota. “By leveraging Spire’s constellation, Myriota will rapidly improve its services, and enter new markets such as Europe. Spire is a perfect partner for extending our global reach.”
Adding more satellites provides low-latency servicing (picking up and sending down data), with 44 satellites likely to provide the ability to pickup data from an IoT device in under a half hour or less if needed.
Spire has a fleet of over 110 cubesats satellites in orbit today conducting AIS ship tracking, ADS-B aircraft tracking, and GPS-RO weather duties. The company’s 3U spacecraft are equipped with software-defined radios (SDRs) enabling customers test, deploy, operate and scale custom applications, as well as enabling the company to add new functions in software, such locating GPS jammers on the ground and adding GNSS reflectrometry to collect more weather data.
Today’s IoT deal is likely to trigger discussion among other satellite IoT players as to how they can virtualize their operations by leveraging SDR-based satellites to more quickly deliver services. Several operators are using the services of Loft Orbital and NanoAvionics to host IoT software or dedicated hardware payloads while OQ Technology conducted its first 5G IoT demonstration using a software upload to an existing cubesat a few years ago.
However, IoT operators appear to have few large-scale options at this time other than Spire’s fleet of satellites. Spire has little incentive to work with IoT operators in the short term since it has capacity committed to Myriota.