Sequans shipping to Docomo pure satellite connectivity solutions

Yusin Hu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: USSF

Having been working on IoT solutions since the 2010s, France-based cellular IoT chipmaker Sequans and Japan's leading IoT network provider Docomo are now taking cellular to satellite.

Sequans CEO Georges Karam recently told DIGITIMES Asia that the company has started shipping pure satellite solutions to Docomo. The French company has also worked on satellite applications with major US aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

Karam said all Sequans' technologies can essentially work on satellites with a little bit of modification to the chips.

Sequans and Docomo have been collaborating for several years. The two companies announced around late 2021 that they have completed interoperability testing with the chipmaker's Monarch 2 GM02S LTE-M/NB-IoT module.

Last month at CES, Sequans CEO said it has started "shipping pure satellite products to Docomo." Karam added that Japan is an important and interesting IoT market for Sequans, also one of the largest IoT markets in the world.

The LTE-M/NB-IoT chip, Monarch 2, is designed to support massive IoT applications including meters, trackers, sensors, and wearables.

Going forward, Karam pointed out that there were "lot of use cases where cellular is going to satellite." Satellite network is supposed to improve user experience where a lack of connection to terrestrial network is present, mostly in remote areas outside the city.

Sequans announced in March 2019 that it was working with Lockheed Martin to develop new 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) for satellite technologies and to deploy globally. The collaboration was expected to enable LTE end-user devices to connect directly to geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites with wide applications, according to Sequans' announcement at that time.

Karam said its satellite business is still small in size, but quite successful. Although shipments remain small number of units, by far it generates higher margin. Given that satellite applications also incur higher added-costs for cellphone or IoT applications, Sequans is researching on more use cases that really need satellite connectivity, such as global tracking systems.