Startup Skylo promises instant NB-IoT via satellite after Softbank funding
Satellite connectivity startup Skylo, promising NB-IoT on existing geostationary satellites, has emerged from stealth with $116 million in total funding, including a new $103 million Series B round led by Japanese telecoms group Softbank.
The California-based company, targeting IoT data communications, previously raised $13 million in a Series A round that was co-led by venture capital firms DCM and Innovation Endeavors, and joined by Moore Strategic Ventures. Softbak was joined by existing investors in the latest Series B round.
Skylo claims to be the world’s first company to leverage the cellular NB-IoT protocol via satellite. It reckons it is able to connect billions of sensors in remote areas, instantly. It wants to build a “global fabric for machine data connectivity”. It is targeting industries like agriculture, fishing, railways, logistics, and utilities.
It is pitching to emerging markets with large rural and remote coverage blackspots. India is first-up. The company has offices in Bangalore in India, along with San Mateo in the US, and Tel Aviv in Israel.
Yoshi Segawa, vice president at SoftBank International, said: “Skylo’s antenna technology and use of the NB-IoT protocol is revolutionary. We look forward to working with the company in developing new use cases.”
Skylo promises satellite connectivity for IoT devices for 95 per cent less than existing satellite solutions, with connectivity starting at $1 per user and hardware costing less than $100. It is using existing geostationary satellites, and has completed commercial field trials with major enterprise and government customers, it said. It claims customers in the automotive, railways, agriculture, and maritime sectors.
The Skylo stack comprises a hub satellite terminal, network, data platform, and API. Its network is live with “early customers”, and “mass manufacturing” of the hub is underway, it said. The hHub features internal sensors for geolocation and acceleration, and connected with external sensors – the company cites vehicle diagnostics, temperature sensors, and mobile devices as examples – like a wi-fi hotspot.
It uses off-the-shelf cellular components to reduce its cost. The device, featuring “digitally-steered” antenna technology and battery/mains power options, is compact (8×8 inches) also, and can be OEM-installed onto most vehicles, utilities infrastructure, and other industrial equipment.
Parthsarathi Trivedi, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, commented: “This low-cost, global fabric of connectivity for machine data will be transformative for entire industries.”