Backhauling IoT Gateways

If you're connecting sensors over a wide area, you're likely to be using an LPWAN solution.
Many of our IoT customers use LoRaWAN to network their sensors. Where we come in is
backhauling the data from the gateway over satellite when cellular is unavailable.

Connecting LoRaWAN Gateways

For this application you will need a satellite transceiver that can manage higher data rates than, for example, a modem connecting to a single sensor. We would typically recommend Inmarsat’s BGAN M2M service, or Iridium’s Certus 100 service, both of which have the bandwidth to transmit aggregated gateway data.

Most gateways are fixed rather than mobile, so BGAN M2M is an option as long as you have clear line of sight to the satellite (learn more about this). If it’s in a mountainous or wooded area, at extreme North or South latitudes, or if ease of operational deployment is a priority, a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation like Iridium Certus is likely to be a better option as satellites are constantly passing overhead.

Both have an IP-based option for transmission which is helpful if you are looking for a plug-and-play option. Iridium Certus 100 also has a message-based option, called Iridium Messaging Transport, which is a more cost-effective use of satellite airtime.

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Benefits of Satellite Connectivity for Gateway Data Backhaul

Low Power

If your gateway is in a remote location, it may lack mains power. If so, your satellite transceiver will need to be able to operate on battery or solar power. Our new RockREMOTE Rugged Mini and Mini OEM devices were designed with this requirement in mind.

Global Coverage

We work with established satellite network operators who have 100%, or close to, global coverage. Oceans, forests, mountains, deserts – you’ll be able to retrieve your sensor data. These network operators also offer low latency of <2 seconds - close to real-time.

Cost-Effective

Satellite can be highly cost-effective, and we’re experts in making sure you extract the most value from your airtime connections. For example, sending your data via messaging as opposed to TCP/IP can decrease your costs tenfold. Learn more about messaging vs. IP.

Interoperable

We can work with almost any protocol, from FTP to Modbus, and have developed a Satellite IoT Gateway that allows you to use MQTT coupled with Iridium Messaging Transport. This delivers low latency, easy to implement, cost-effective, reliable and secure connectivity.

What To Consider When Selecting A Satellite Solution

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Location
For commercial applications you have a choice of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) or GEO satellites (learn about the difference). GEO is a great choice if you have line-of-sight to the satellite. That’s less likely if you are in a mountainous, wooded, or built-up area. A LEO constellation has satellites moving constantly overhead; this means you can use an omni-directional antenna. Read our guide to siting an antenna.

Latency
If you need to be able to act quickly on your sensor data, Iridium has very low latency, usually less than one second. This is because their satellite constellation is in LEO, so the signal doesn’t have far to travel. It also means that antennae can be small and discreet. Inmarsat / Viasat have GEO satellites, but still deliver your data in close to real-time – less than two seconds. A third option is
a new satellite constellation, who may have only two or three orbiting satellites. If you can manage receiving your data once or twice a day, this could be an option.

Data Optimization
Sending data over satellite is more expensive than terrestrial networks, so considering what data you need to send, and how frequently, are key considerations. Our recommended devices for gateway connectivity all have edge processing capabilities, so if this is missing from your gateway, you can use the satellite transceiver to manage your data.

IP vs. Messaging
Satellite network operators give you the option of sending your IoT data via TCP/IP (for example, Iridium Certus 100 and Inmarsat BGAN M2M services), but it’s not the most efficient means of accessing the network. If you’re able to use a messaging service, your costs will be substantially lowered. If you’re using MQTT, great news: our Satellite IoT Gateway does all the heavy lifting of converting your data into a message-based format, and back.

Here to Help

If you need help backhauling your gateway data from remote locations, please get in touch! With 20 years of experience, we can help you make the best choices based on your requirements.

Please call us on us on +44 (0) 1452 751940 (Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania) or +1.805.783.4600 (North and South America); email hello@groundcontrol.com, or complete the form.

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