Satellites offer secure and cost-effective role for 'small data'

Joel Schroeder of Inmarsat Joel Schroeder of Inmarsat

BLOG. July 7, 2012 – Small data is becoming big business. As demand for M2M services continues to grow, organisations are grappling with what types of network to deploy. While a significant amount of M2M traffic will undoubtedly continue to use wireline or cellular networks, satellite networks are increasingly seen as a secure and cost-effective option for a wide range of user scenarios, says Joel Schroeder (pictured), director, M2M Program, Inmarsat.

Because of their ubiquitous coverage and high level of availability – even under extreme environmental conditions – satellite M2M services offer organisations the ability to plug the gaps in terrestrial coverage, extending their reach to devices in more remote and hostile locations. As well as providing a ‘network extension’ for day-to-day operations, satellite M2M services are also being deployed as a back-up to traditional networks, to ensure that mission-critical data continues to be transmitted during terrestrial network outages or when cellular networks are simply congested.

L-band satellite networks offer a unique level of reliability, not subject to rain fade or other environmental conditions, with a high degree of pointing tolerance that ensures that network connections are not lost, even if the antenna shifts from its original position.

Satellite M2M services have been deployed to support numerous business applications, including:

SCADA communications for systems monitoring gas pipelines and oil wells;
• Backhaul for Smart Meter Concentrators (data aggregation points for power meters);
• Access to remote ATM or point-of-sale devices for retail banks;
• Linking environmental sensors that monitor water quality or seismic activity;
• Connecting tracking and telemetry devices for transport fleet management.

Satellite M2M networks are ideal for managing these remote, mission-critical devices and for ensuring access to remote infrastructure, even during critical man-made or natural disaster – but the applications are more wide-ranging than this. Satellite networks are also cost-effective and flexible enough to provide an extremely secure, highly available alternative to wireline or cellular networks for M2M applications requiring a flexible data rate ranging from bytes to gigabytes. We see demand for higher data rate, IP-based M2M services becoming more prevalent among utilities and in the oil and gas sectors, for example.

As the appetite for transmitting small data continues unabated, I expect to see more satellite M2M services being deployed to reach points that other networks cannot; but also, increasingly, as a cost-effective, highly reliable alternative to saturated, less resilient terrestrial M2M networks.

Inmarsat is the only L-band satellite operator to offer a high data rate, IP service on a global basis.
SCADA = System Control and Data Acquisition

The author is Joel Schroeder, director of Inmarsat’s M2M Program. He leads the implementation of Inmarsat’s M2M strategy across the global business. Appointed in February, Joel is responsible for developing and maintaining the channel and partner programme, as well as driving the evolution of Inmarsat’s M2M service portfolio.

He joined Inmarsat’s Washington, DC office in April 2009 as Market Development Manager, Land Business. In this role Joel was responsible for leading global market development in the Utilities and Aid sectors, with a focus on new revenue generation and channel development. He also managed the commercial relationship with Inmarsat partner, SkyWave, around the launch of new M2M products and services.

Joel received an MA in International Communication from American University, Washington, DC, and a BA in Political Science and French from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, USA. He also speaks French and Russian.

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