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Sateliot to build 5G core on AWS

Satellite IoT operator Sateliot has opted for a hyperscaler to host its cloud-native 5G core.

The Spain-based company, which is on a mission to offer direct-to-satellite NB-IoT connectivity from low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, struck a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) this week. Once up and running, its fully-virtualised core will support 5G release 17, which enables non-terrestrial network (NTN) connectivity. It means that compatible devices will be able to connect directly to Sateliot’s network without having to be modified first.

Sateliot’s go-to-market strategy is to offer a seamless coverage extension for mobile operators via straightforward roaming agreements. It has already partnered with Telefónica, which is testing its technology with a view to integrating with Kite, its managed connectivity platform for IoT devices.

“Customers can continue using the same commercial RF module or device and SIM that they currently use to switch between their terrestrial network and Sateliot’s satellite constellation, without any additional hardware cost,” said Sateliot, in a statement on Monday. “5G-based connectivity for narrowband IoT over satellite is expected to be a key enabler for massive universal IoT adoption across the world as it allows IoT service providers to connect directly to satellite networks using inexpensive RF modules compared to expensive current solutions.”

Keeping a lid on costs is key with NB-IoT, since customers want to use these networks to carry small volumes of data – intermittently in some cases – from lots of devices. While delivering IoT from space offers the advantage of connectivity in hard-to-reach areas, it also represents an added challenge. This is because satellite network deployment is more costly and time-consuming compared to terrestrial, what with designing the satellites, and burning all that rocket fuel and so-on.

To give an idea of the timescales involved, Sateliot was founded in 2018 and launched its first, and to-date only, satellite in March 2021. Its next launch is slated for early October, but again this appears to be another test satellite because in a recent announcement, Sateliot said it will commence deployment of its commercial satellite constellation in Q1 next year.

With this in mind, it’s obvious why Sateliot has gone with a hyperscale public cloud provider like AWS, with its consumption-based, pay-as-you-go pricing model. In addition to picking AWS to host its infrastructure, Sateliot said it will use the open-source Magma platform for the core network software itself. Development of Magma began at Meta as a project aimed at spurring small-scale, low-cost network deployment in rural and underserved areas. Last year, it became part of the Linux Foundation.

Partnering with AWS is also in line with this ongoing trend of CSPs hosting their virtualised infrastructure in the public cloud. As Telecoms.com reported last week from TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World (DTW 2022), hyperscalers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are positioning themselves as fundamental partners to the telecoms industry, rather than competitive threats. Read more here.

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