Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, June 28, 2022

AWS, Iridium Partner on Space-Based IoT Network 

Source: Iridium

Iridium, the satellite communication specialist, is nearing full deployment of a new constellation of telecom satellites that would plug gaps in cellular coverage. Iridium and launch partner Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, expect to launch the final 10 satellites making up the $3 billion NEXT space-based network by the end of 2018.

Iridium, McLean, Va., is now looking beyond wireless coverage to include a space-based platform for handling Internet of Things applications. The satellite company announced a partnership this week with Amazon Web Services for development of a cloud-based IoT platform providing global coverage. The partners said the goal is to create a space-based cloud network to handle the projected 75 billion IoT devices expected to be deployed by 2025.

The new IoT network to be inaugurated in 2019 would combine Iridium fleet of 66 NEXT satellites with cloud-based IoT services offered by AWS. The expanded coverage would bring IoT applications to the 80 percent of the planet currently lacking wireless coverage, the partners said.

Iridium (NASDAQ:IRDM) claims 630,000 “active devices” so far on its IoT network, reflecting an annual growth rate of about 19 percent since 2015. “Each existing Iridium partner will be able to rapidly adopt AWS services due to the automated translation of the Iridium network’s proprietary protocols and industry standard IoT protocols supported by AWS IoT, to and from the appropriate devices and databases,” the company said Thursday (Sept. 27).

AWS (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been steadily expanding its cloud IoT offerings, including the release last year of Greengrass service designed to connect local devices to its public cloud via its Lambda software.  AWS Lambda embeds computing and other cloud services into IoT devices.

The partnership with Iridium would greatly extend the reach of the public cloud giant’s IoT services. Iridium said its space-based “CloudConnect” network would allow existing AWS customers to “to keep everything the same on the back end, while opening up the opportunity to quickly expand their coverage.”

So far, seven SpaceX launches have delivered 65 new satellites to low-Earth orbit, with the final launch of 10 satellites scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. Upon completion, a total of 75 Iridium NEXT satellites will be on station, with 66 in the active constellation and nine serving as on-orbit spares.

The resulting capabilities, Iridium said, include the ability to translate industry-standard IoT protocols and Iridium’s “short burst datacapabilities, allowing them to communicate with one another. “This exchange enables any IoT device connected through the Iridium network to speak natively with Amazon’s cloud-based server and its user interfaces,” the company said.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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