With a plate of bangers and mash in front of me and a bank of windows, I marveled at the views. We were on the 40th floor of Duck & Waffle, with a bird’s eye view of Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, London Bridge, and Wembley Stadium.
We were at the epicenter of everything British.
I visited none of these places.
Instead, I experienced something even better: a front row seat into the dramatic impact satellite connectivity is defining success for industrial companies.
The Viasat ELEVATE Partner Event was the first of its kind. Tech innovators from around the world gathered to learn and share stories about how satellite is transforming communications for remote operators in oil and gas, agriculture, mining, logistics, and more.
Beyond the event, ELEVATE is also a partner program to ramp up the IoT ecosystem through education, collaboration, and idea-sharing for IoT solution providers like FreeWave, system integrators, machinery manufacturers, and OEMs.
Viasat is a global company of more than 8,000, a rising Fortune 1000 enterprise, which acquired UK-based Inmarsat in early 2023. Viasat covers 99% of the U.S. with Inmarsat’s ELERA satellite network providing satellite access to many parts of the world using the reliable and weather-resistant L-band network. Together, they are driving new terminal development, lowering the cost of satellite connectivity, and speeding up real-time, two-way information for remote operators who previously felt satellite communication was cumbersome, expensive, and slow.
And it was. But that’s the old story. That’s why I’m excited to share three themes that emerged for me during our visit across the pond.
1. Radical innovation is driving IoT adoption in new markets and lowering the cost threshold.
Here’s a non-scientific way of summing up the first theme: there’s a whole lot of R&D going on in the world!
Viasat has 19 satellites in orbit with 11 on order. Impressive. They are investing in teleports for the L-band network, undeniably the best spectrum for data transfer over satellite. Translation for the rest of us? Mobile satellite communication became 20x faster in Q1 of this year. Using the same terminals with new software, this means you can send data more efficiently and more affordably. Spectral efficiency will exponentially increase the functionality of IoT devices for many solutions.
Technology, and specifically data, only has meaning when people use it to better their lives. Earlier this year, as part of our 30th Anniversary vision for the future, FreeWave recommitted to not only building great tech, but to understand our customers’ day-to-day needs, tech stack outlook, revenue goals, challenges, and business vision. We talked to hundreds of customers, beta testers, and potential customers. At the top of their list: zero trust security, compliance monitoring, a leaner tech stack, real-time connectivity, remarkably better operational performance, and cost effectiveness.
This is why we went to ELEVATE: to keep delivering on that wish list. And while we may have missed the sights of London, we saw our collaboration with other partners as being like a pit crew for remote industrial companies in hard-to-reach places.
One company, for example, has reduced video compression by 80%. This is a game-changer for a rancher with thousands of acres because while sensors might show how much water is in a tank, ranchers are spending 100K a year to see their cattle. With video compression integrated into FreeWave solutions, they can save time and money on truck rolls. Many applications, from homeland security to smart oilfields to refrigerated cargo on a ship, can benefit from this.
With the progression of satellite reliability, we’re excited to be able to bring solutions that include data-intensive video streaming requiring IP cameras. We’re designing solutions for a customer installing electric fences around government and private campuses.
New IoT tech tied to satellite defies the myth that we can’t be everywhere all the time. Turns out we can.
2. Channel partners are not afraid to build things, together.
The ROI of mobile satellite communication is really impressive when you are able to enhance production, throughput, and safety. Fearlessly building things together, for the betterment of our collective customers, is definitely a second theme we took away from the event.
Companies we align with have deep roots in specific technologies: push-to-talk, remote employee safety, cameras, backhauling unmanned vehicles for government, just to name a few. Bringing complementary pieces into our portfolio solves customers’ bigger problems.
Attending ELEVATE signaled the dawn of a new age where technology is amplified by software, satellite terminals, and collaboration of many great minds thinking together.
In the end, we are made better together as channel partners, leveraging strengths, knowledge, and abilities. It makes us better, faster, stronger. It makes us better for our customers. That’s our goal as an innovator.
3. Satellite aligns with a more sustainable future.
While Sputnik, the first satellite, was launched in 1957, I feel like the Space Age is just beginning here on earth. It is a key part of a more sustainable future.
In an article in SpaceRef, Inmarsat’s President Mike Carter put it this way: “The ELEVATE community will play an active role in addressing the planet’s really big challenges, helping build a more sustainable, efficient, and safe global supply chain.”
After experiencing ELEVATE, I’m a believer. Here’s why. If you can get real-time data remotely, you’re not burning fossil fuels to gather insight. If there is machine-to-machine “dialogue,” you streamline people’s time. If you let the ground reveal what a sprayer needs to know, you might use water more efficiently.
The role of satellite communication helps solve today’s critical issues. Increasing yield and output without increasing the percentage of cost keeps consumer goods affordable. Making lives and work better is what IoT is about. It’s what FreeWave is about. Helping make lives better has been a core belief of ours for decades.
FreeWave’s Platform-as-a-Service Brings Remote Operators Closer to the Truth
We’re not alone. For me, that was the big takeaway from Viasat’s ELEVATE. We have access to many different ELEVATE partners and their technology superpowers. These will help us bring to market true end-to-end solutions for our customers. All roads lead to increased revenues, efficiency, sustainability, and operational excellence. Four words that ring happy in our customers’ ears.
We also learned that few are pulling it all together. Ready for launch, soon, FreeWave’s Platform-as-a-Service is a two-way, single-solution data platform featuring customizable alerting, alarming and visualizations that bridge disparate data silos so data flows smoothly and elegantly to help teams make better, faster decisions – and even take action on them remotely, machine-to-machine. Imagine. We are all, right now, co-creators in the age of satellite.