Skylo and BSNL Boosting Digital India Vision: Prasanna S Iyengar

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Prasanna S Iyengar, Director of Product Management, Skylo Technologies shared some insights about the company's satellite-based NB IoT technology. Iyengar further told us about the company's partnership with BSNL and how it is helping India boost its digital vision.

Q) Tell us about Skylo and its satellite-based NB IoT technology.

Skylo is the world’s most affordable end-to-end IoT solution to connect machines and sensors to deliver data insights. Existing communication networks were designed and built to connect people, but machines, devices, and sensors operate even in regions with poor population density and hence underwhelming or absent network coverage.

Skylo’s technology innovations make it possible to offer ubiquitous and highly reliable connectivity to this hitherto unserved market. Skylo uses satellite communication, a traditionally expensive option, to carry the specific kinds of data these sensors & machines send in a highly efficient and affordable manner.

Skylo is enabling traditionally unconnected use cases and assisting the government in increasing safety through effective disaster management and driving economic development & job creation.

Imagine humble fishing boats that now can send SOS signals and report their catch while at sea; smart farming equipment that notifies farmers of a soil’s nutritional needs on a real-time basis; trucks that provide early warnings before overheating and causing a critical delay in delivery; or instant alerts using sensors for natural disasters such as fires and floods.

This immediate and continuous data insight is possible using Skylo technology - geostationary satellites to bring reliable connectivity, Skylo ‘Hub’ “hotspot”, and an immersive Skylo Platform, making deploying IoT simple and affordable for millions. Today, the company serves customers across the public and private sectors in industries that include logistics, agriculture, maritime, healthcare, and others.

Q) Is the technology being implemented by Indian fishermen and farmers? How is it benefitting them?

Skylo helps fishermen, boat owners and the agencies that serve them get real-time information about fleet location, ensure safety at sea, monitoring & effective utilization of fuel, higher earnings through real-time reporting of fish catch from deep-sea and in many other ways.

Skylo, in partnership with BSNL, delivers pan-India network coverage, including India’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. The coverage is comprehensive without a dark patch - from Kashmir or Ladakh to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat to the North East.

Some states, for example, have already tested & deployed the Skylo-powered BSNL transponder with its two-way data communication capability directly over satellite and proven its usage in the deep sea.

Such solutions are also delivering more accurate insights for farms and farmers across India - insights on soil health, automated control of irrigation and driving efficient usage of water & fertilizer. As technology adoption gathers momentum, we are likely to witness large scale adoption of the best technologies available to fishermen and farmers alike.

Q) In this ongoing pandemic, how can your technology support the Government in tracking vaccines and the supply of oxygen?

At Skylo, we recognised early on that technology such as the Internet of Things  (IoT) would be a key component in any successful global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and more so in an Indian context. One of the early signs of the key role it would play became evident when public health officials and governments began to recognise how it could hold the key to India’s plans for secure and efficient COVID-19 vaccine delivery.

An efficient supply chain for vaccines must include full traceability and monitoring of temperature and inventory levels of the vaccine throughout the supply chain. This has proven to be true for critical oxygen supplies as well.

Even as India steps on the pedal and increases the pace and scale of what is arguably the world’s largest vaccination drive, its logistics industry is under great pressure. This is where Skylo is working with key stakeholders in this industry.

While GPS technologies are playing a major role in ensuring the “chain of custody” of the vaccines, it is our end-to-end connectivity that offers an effective way to drive and monitor that entire process. Data that’s recorded from sensors installed with the cargo and in the vehicle itself is communicated through the Skylo hub on the vehicle and satellite-based, narrowband Skylo Network to a cloud data platform. Our platform is then able to deliver this information & insights at every point of the chain of custody for key users of the data.

This is key because Skylo’s always-on solution means it is able to monitor and maintain the correct refrigeration level, temperature, making up for lack of sunlight, warmth or otherwise of precious vaccines or even scarce oxygen throughout its transit route, even when there is no cellular coverage for voice or data engagement.

Skylo’s solution, which sits on narrow-band, satellite-based IoT connectivity, offers a secure, reliable, and cost-effective platform for large-scale deployment of vehicle sensors and satellite connectivity, delivering real-time actionable intelligence to healthcare decision-makers, doctors and key frontline workers, governments, fleet owners and drivers, and law enforcement agencies across India.

Q) Please tell us more about your partnership with BSNL and Beetel

In February 2021, Skylo and Beetel partnered to rapidly scale the adoption of end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to connect the billions of machines and remote assets in hundreds of industries across India. As part of this partnership, Beetel extends Skylo’s sales, customer support, and product fulfilment capabilities.

A few months back, in December 2020, Skylo partnered with BSNL to connect billions of sensors and machines in maritime, agriculture, railway, logistics, and disaster management. Together, Skylo and BSNL are advancing Prime Minister Modi’s vision of a true Digital India by connecting millions of sensors and machines from space so that business owners anywhere can understand, manage, and predict what is happening in order to make smart and timely decisions. The network is accessible across the sub-continent and is being rolled out with select customers in government and private sectors.

Q) So far, how much investment has the company received?

Skylo emerged from stealth in January 2020 with its $103M Series  B round led by  SoftBank Group and existing investors Boeing Horizon X, DCM, Innovation Endeavors, and Moore Strategic Ventures. Skylo has raised a total of $116M to achieve its vision of building a global fabric for machine data connectivity.

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