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IoT SuperNetwork Satellite

emnify has developed IoT SuperNetwork SatPlus, a converged service solution that helps reduce the complexity of IoT connectivity through a single global platform architecture. By aggregating and complementing traditional cellular IoT connectivity with outdoor satellite NTN-IoT connectivity, emnify maximizes global IoT service coverage.

Satellite NTN-IoT connectivity can serve as a fallback solution when terrestrial cellular connection drops out. Alternatively, it can be the sole means of connection for stationary use cases, enabling data transport in remote areas.

Infographic of the satellite NTN-IoT connectivity, starting with the satellite constellation (3GPP NTN compliant) and ending with the emnify Portal or your IoT application.

The integration with Skylo enables emnify to offer terrestrial cellular and satellite NTN-IoT data service through a single IoT connectivity management and billing platform.

With an emnify satellite eSIM, businesses can connect, integrate, operate, and secure thousands of devices to terrestrial cellular and non-terrestrial networks (NTN). It allows enterprises to expand their IoT business into new geographies and use cases, enabling seamless IoT connectivity for increased device uptime.

One eSIM and hybrid radio module for converged IoT service (cellular: LTE-M/NB-IoT/eGPRS, satellite: NTN-IoT)

NTN-IoT technology

NB-IoT over NTN (NTN-IoT) is a standardized cellular technology established in the 3GPP Release 17. It defines a way for satellites to provide direct-to-device telecommunication services with NB-IoT cellular modems. It can offer coverage anywhere in the world, as long as there's an appropriate satellite overhead. It's usually used for service continuity, to enable cellular coverage where it's unfeasible through terrestrial networks (for example, in maritime or remote areas), as well as service ubiquity in various situations where the terrestrial network infrastructures aren't available (economic reasons) or are out-of-order (earth disasters such as earthquakes, floods, etc.).

How NTN-IoT works

NB-IoT over NTN works very similarly to NB-IoT devices, except the device telemetry data is sent from the device to the eNB through a satellite communication channel.

Satellites could be:

Geostationary equatorial orbit (GEO) satellites
Satellites with circular orbits at 35,786 kilometers above the Earth's equator and follow the direction of the Earth's rotation. An object in this orbit has an orbital period equal to the Earth's rotational period and thus appears motionless at a fixed position in the sky to ground observers.

Non-geostationary satellites
Satellites (LEO and MEO) that orbit around the Earth and move across the sky. A constellation of multiple non-Geostationary satellites is necessary to carry service as they move over the horizon, requiring handover management to ensure service continuity.

  • Medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites typically orbit at an altitude between 7,000 to 25,000 km.
  • Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites typically at an altitude between 500 km to 2,000 km.

High-altitude platforms (HAPS)
HAPS are airborne vehicles, like planes or balloons, that watch over Earth from the stratosphere. Operating like satellites but closer to Earth, typically at 20 km altitude, they float above conventional aircraft and can offer continuous coverage of the territory below.

emnify Satellite NTN partner: Skylo

For the first generation of satellite-converged IoT service, emnify has partnered with Skylo, which provides global roaming network access using GEO satellite constellations. Because of this, the following specifications only cover GEO satellites.

Supported radio access technologies

emnify's satellite eSIMs and platform support all devices and modules using the following radio access technologies (RAT):

NB-IoT over NTN (RAT 17, GEO satellite)

NB-IoT over NTN (NTN-IoT) is also part of the 5G NTN standardization from 3GPP Release 17. This technology has been specified to meet the demand for satellite IoT use cases in the following areas:

  • Reduced cost
    NTN-IoT allows for mass deployments of satellite IoT or hybrid IoT devices that enable terrestrial cellular and satellite NTN-IoT connections.
  • Low power utilization
    For battery-powered use cases that require years of operation, NTN-IoT supports power saving features, such as PSM and eDRX, for satellite connections. It also reduces the maximum transmission power compared to the proprietary radio user equipment most traditional satellite IoT providers use.
  • Wider coverage for rural and non-terrestrial use cases
    NTN-IoT utilizes the Coverage Enhancement (CE) feature with more retransmissions to ensure data is delivered.
  • Small module size
    This technology enables miniaturized device form factors for sensors or wearables.

According to the specification, NTN-IoT deploys in the following frequency bands. To deploy NTN-IoT in multiple countries and regions, the modules need to support the satellite operator frequency bands.

  • B255 (1.6 GHz) L-band
  • B256 (2.0 GHz) S-band

NTN-enabled NB-IoT modules come in different versions:

  • NTN-IoT only
  • LTE-M/NB-IoT/NTN-IoT combined
  • LTE-M/NB-IoT/NTN-IoT with 2G eGPRS fallback

Currently, roaming for NTN-IoT service is only provided by a single operator: Skylo. That said, more operators are developing and launching NTN-IoT service capabilities to provide NTN-IoT access to their satellite network's supporting features.

For more information, see emnify's NTN-IoT coverage (listed as SAT).

Supported devices

Compatible radio user equipment

To use emnify's satellite converged IoT service, radio user equipment has to fulfill the following minimum requirements.

Technical specifications for SuperNetwork SatPlus
Frequency bandsCellular RAN: LTE and 2G bands
Satellite RAN: B255, B256, B23
NTN / NB-IoT / LTE-MDual Mode LTE Cat-M1/NB2 (Release 14)
5G NB-IoT over NTN (Release 17)
2G/EDGEEnhanced GPRS
Power savingPSM
Transport Layer ProtocolIPv4/UDP for satellite NTN connectivity
Modem output powerLTE Class 3: 23 dBm
Antenna gain3 to 5 dBi
Throughput via satelliteMaximum 20x transmissions per minute²
Maximum packet size (MTU): 256 bytes, resulting in 0.682 kbps.
Carrier CertificationSkylo
Supported IP data protocols

emnify supports UDP/IPv4 data transport via Skylo NTN (geostationary satellite IoT service). Skylo currently permits a throughput of 20x messages per minute, each with a maximum transmission unit (MTU) of 256 bytes. Non-IP data delivery (NIDD) isn't supported by emnify.

To establish a successful data connection using a module and SIM, set the Access Point Name (APN) to em or emnify.

Compatible IoT radio modules

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have announced a range of radio modules that support satellite NTN-IoT connections, which you can find in the following table. Nordic and u-blox are expected to release compatible modules in 2024.

Contact your preferred vendor to inquire about samples and estimated delivery timelines.

Murata Type 1Sc
Quectel CC660D-LS----
Quectel BG770A-SN
Quectel BG95-S5
Fibocom MA510A-GL-33
Telit Cinterion ME910G1
Telit Cinterion ME310G1
Sierra HL7800/7812
SIMCom 7070G-HP-S

Skylo certification of user equipment

To ensure the best performance of devices, emnify's partner Skylo has restricted network access to those certified through their certification program. This includes the use of certified modems and radio modules. For more information, see the Skylo Certification Program.