How satellite accelerates the promise behind the Internet of Things

To take advantage of the Internet of Things, you need a good wireless router and a strong internet connection -- like the one provided by Viasat just about anywhere.

With the Internet of Things, a refrigerator can become “smart” and let you know when it’s time to stock up on milk and eggs. A smart thermostat can learn your temperature preferences at different times of the day and help lower your electric bill. And a virtual assistant service, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, can understand you when you ask it to stream music in the kitchen or turn off the bedroom lights and TV.

Research company Gartner forecasts that the world will soon be using more than 20 billion connected things, with consumers mostly using smart TVs and digital set-top boxes while businesses use smart electric meters and connected security cameras. Plenty more behind-the-scenes applications exist in agriculture, meteorology and public utilities, to name a few.

But if the promise held by the Internet of Things is to continue evolving, it means the technology that connects all these things must also evolve. A world with billions of connected Things is a world that needs broadband speeds and coverage practically everywhere. In many places, it’s connectivity best served via satellite.

How satellite supports IoT

For many, satellite has long been thought of as a natural complement to IoT devices, particularly in areas underserved by terrestrial internet providers. This can mean populated rural areas outside the cable and fiber zones, but also in places where the need for connectivity hadn’t ever been anticipated.  How long can a commercial freight vehicle stay connected when traveling outside of a city’s limits? Many a lonely stretch of highway has little or no connectivity via cell tower, meaning any on-board IoT device can’t remain consistently online.

Many of those agricultural and industrial uses mentioned above include servicing areas where traditional internet providers don’t go. We already have quite a few customers who use our service to monitor remote areas with cameras, sensors and listening devices. We know that need will increase greatly in the future, and satellite will help fill in those coverage gaps almost anywhere.

ViaSat-2 service delivers on the real-world promises of IoT

Empowering homes and businesses for the IoT via satellite involves more than rocketing another satellite into orbit. In fact, almost all IoT devices in the market today rely on some form of Wi-Fi to perform their jobs, so in conjunction with launching the new ViaSat-2 broadband satellite, we also realized the necessity of taking our wireless routers to a higher level.

Our new Viasat WiFi Gateway — which contains the Wi-Fi router — is designed for heavy-duty, multi-device (and smarthome IoT) connectivity. We improved on cooling efficiency so that our gateways could work harder and deliver broadband speeds up to 100 Mbps throughput over the widest possible Wi-Fi footprint. We also made sure that our gateways communicate simultaneously in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands to help maintain WiFi connectivity with subscribers’ devices whether they are close to the gateway or on the other sides of walls. Learn more about the WiFi Gateway

And with all of these devices reminding you about your milk and keeping your house efficiently cooled, we wanted to eliminate concerns about data caps, so our ViaSat-2 service gives our customers unlimited data on most plans. That means having the freedom to bring all of the incredible advantages of the Internet of Things into their homes and businesses, wherever they live and work.

Viasat customers can enjoy all of the latest IoT conveniences, such as receiving package delivery alerts from your home security system, keeping your garden watered just right, or queuing up some dinner music just by asking aloud. And who knows what the future of IoT holds? Our homes will become smarter, safer and greener. But hey, if all of that smart connectivity isn’t for you, you can keep it simple and just use your service for email, streaming and browsing!

Brandon Roding
About Brandon Roding 4 Articles
Wi-Fi product manager and avowed IoT junkie, Brandon Roding earned his tech chops maintaining the family IBM 8088 and building his first 2400 baud modem by hand. He's spent the last 15 years in telecom focused on meeting the needs of customers. As part of the Viasat Denver product team, he's dedicated to finding products at the intersection of smart, simple and satisfying.