Some IoT applications may require 24/7 worldwide coverage, and cellular networks are suitable since they may not provide coverage in remote locations, at sea, or at altitude. The only solution in that case is to go with satellite communication through thank to networks such as the ones provided by Iridium Communications.
Gateworks GW16130 makes it easy to add a satellite modem card to your projects thanks to it’s mini PCIe form factor and USB 2.0 interface.
- Iridium 9603N SBD (Short Burst Data) Satellite Transceiver
- Max Message payload – 340 bytes upload, 270 bytes download
- Automatic message notification on incomming messages
- Operates anywhere on earth including North & South Poles
- Supports E-mail messages or HTTP POST
- UART AT command interface
- Operating frequency – 1616MHz to 1626.5MHz
- 1.6W Average transmit power
- -117dBm Receiver sensitivity
- Onboard u.Fl antenna port for antenna connection
- Host Interface – USB 2.0 via mini PCIe socket
- Operating Voltage – 3.3V
- Power Consumption
- 7.2W @ 25°C peak operating power (transmit)
- 0.85W @ 25°C average operating power (receive/idle)
- Dimensions – 50.95 x 30.00 x 11.60 mm (Full size Mini-PCIe mechanical form factor)
- Weight – 19 grams
- Temperature Range – -40°C to +85°C operating temperature
The company explains how to use the card with AT commands, and potential providers in the Wiki. All you need is an SBC with a mini PCIe socket with USB 2.0 routed, an antenna (for example this), and a u.Fl to SMA adapter.
Satellite communication is great, but last time I checked it was really expensive. We previously covered an Iridium / WiFi mobile access point to connect up to 5 smartphones, and unlimited data plans went for $115 at the time with 25 Kbps bandwidth in 2014. Gateworks card will be mostly suitable for Internet of Things applications, where bandwidth and data usage requirements might lower, and the company reports plan for around $20 per month with 12 KB free data are available. Price may come down over the next few years, as competition in this space, pun intended, may heat up with Sigfox launching their own satellite network.
The satellite modem mini PCIe card appears to be available now, but price has not been made public. You can request pricing and/or find more information on the product page.