FloLIVE teams up with Skylo to offer 5G IoT over satellite – with no new hardware
London-based startup FloLIVE, offering aggregated hybrid-private 5G from global mobile operators for IoT use cases, is working with California-based satellite IoT provider Skylo to augment its footprint with the addition of non-terrestrial 5G network (NTN) coverage, to go beyond the reach of terrestrial mobile networks. The duo aims to offer “continuous and affordable satellite NTN coverage”.
FloLIVE is approaching the IoT market – and notably the enterprise and industrial IoT markets – as a kind of in-market private 5G MVNO, offering access to public and private spectrum for national private enterprise usage. Last year, the firm took a $15.5 million funding extension from Qualcomm Ventures and Dell Technologies, among others, taking its series B total to $37 million. They joined an existing VC-roster that includes Intel Capital.
It claims a “globally distributed array” of local core networks in key countries and regions, billed as “the world’s first and largest global hyperlocal network”. These are managed from its centralised FloNET cloud platform. It has a number of deals with mobile operators in local markets to allocate international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) number-ranges to its FloNET platform, to provide carrier-level security around network access.
Its pitch is that enterprises want to combine private on-site 5G networks with national 5G coverage, leveraged from public 5G networks – and that operators want a simpler way to serve these enterprises. FloLIVE reckons it can straddle the line by offering localised core networks, adhering to regional privacy rules and data sovereignty regulations, that plug into privately-licensed and owned 5G networks, as well as public 5G infrastructure.
The introduction of network slicing on public 5G networks will, presumably, extend the mobile private network (MPN) features into the public network domain, and make FloLIVE’s offering ‘private’ effectively end-to-end, across both sets of infrastructure. Nir Shalom, chief executive at FloLIVE, has written in a blog post: “Traditionally, mobile private networks have been associated with a private campus, but this kind of local coverage is insufficient.”
The new arrangement with Skylo combines its existing carrier integrations with Skylo’s satellite connectivity, which leverages existing satellite constellations already in space. Skylo claims a “hybrid capability” that allows NTN-capable off-the-shelf cellular chipsets to connect directly over satellites. Devices connected over satellite are managed by Skylo’s NTN vRAN, featuring 3GPP-based “cloud-native” base station and core components.
Skylo’s is the “world’s first 3GPP standards-based approach to satellite NTN”, it reckons. The fact it allows IoT devices to connect over existing satellites, without new antennas or power modules, means satellite-enabled cellular IoT solutions are quicker to develop, most robust, and more scalable, it claims. The FloLIVE collaboration works with a firmware update on existing IoT devices, without the need for new hardware.
The service will be live in the first quarter of 2023, they said. “New connected use cases are constantly evolving and expanding with the introduction of low-power wide-area (LPWA) technologies as well as NTN. The introduction of battery-powered devices that have a lifespan of years has also greatly expanded the types of use cases,” the company said in a statement, referencing applications for wildfire prevention and remote asset tracking.
The advantage with satellites, it said, is just that its solutions support these types of services everywhere, even in far-off climes. FloLIVE, said: “This collaboration enables us to expand the reach of our global network into new territories to provide truly ubiquitous coverage to our customers”.
Skylo said: “The fact that device makers now have the choice to include satellite NTN connectivity in their products without adding any incremental hardware is a paradigm shift for the industry.”