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М2М / IoT

Nowadays, a fast growth of M2M applications usage is observed in plenty of business segments all over the world – mobile vehicles monitoring, oil and gas pipelines, ecology, meteorology, security and electric power objects are among them.

M2M servicing arrangement in GSM-network coverage areas doesn’t cause any difficulties as hundreds of companies propose different solutions based on self-designed GSM-modules. The major difficulties in M2M technologies implementation appear in the areas without GSM-network coverage or when a moveable monitoring object periodically reaches areas with no GSM-signals or intermittent service areas.   A number of monitoring objects requires a backup communication channel for stable information delivery. This may become a problem if only GSM signal circuits are used due to overload and failures typical of them in the periods of emergency situations, natural disasters.  Use of mobile satellite communication channels in M2M applications is especially relevant for the countries with weak communication infrastructure and countries with vast territories uncovered by GSM channels. Therefore, apart from the traditional market of M2M technologies with the use of mobile satellite communication on seas and oceans, the following regions may be considered as the range of interest:  USA and Canada, Middle East, China, Russia, Australia, South Africa, Africa.

There is a number of mobile satellite communication operators who propose solutions for M2M applications. In this article, we will consider only two of them – “Inmarsat” and “Iridium”. – (more than 500 trade ships under the flag of Russia have been equipped with special M2M equipment to meet the international requirements for the Long Range Identification and Tracking System (LRIT) and the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) and now it works intensively on Iridium SBD (short burst data) services implementation on behalf of transportation industry of Russia. I.e. the company has a practical working experience with M2M equipment of both operators).  However, it shall be noted that all mobile satellite networks operators follow with insight the M2M services segment development of each other, so that leads to some balance in the rates for services, equipment cost, new applications development. A brief description of the networks is given below.

Description of the networks

At present, Insarmat operates 4th generation communication satellites. Three geosynchronous satellites provide almost global coverage, up to 70th latitude. It means that the system, actually, doesn’t cover the polar zones only. Inmarsat has deployed BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) broadband communication network, and portable mobile terminals can provide communication via IP up to 500 bps, as well as voice services. 

bgan coverage

Iridium is the network operator that uses near-earth satellites. The group of 66 satellites (11orbit planes with 6 satellites in each plane) ensures full worldwide coverage of the Earth. Iridium provides IP services up to 128 kbps as well as phone services.   

irisium coverage

Inmarsat proposes three types of equipment for M2M services:

1. IsatM2M series equipment (terminals SureLinx 8100, DMR 800, Osprey, SAT-202).

2. IsatDataPro series equipment (terminals IDP 680, 690, 800, 780, 100).

3. BGAN M2M series equipment (terminal Hughes 9502).

IsatM2M series equipment provides information transfer via bursts up to 85 bit and burst receipt up to 200 bit. IsatDataPro series equipment provides data bursts transfer up to 6400 bytes and burst acceptance up to 10 000 bytes. BGAN M2M series equipment provides Internet access for M2M applications at speed higher than 100 kbps. Each series has its own niche of applications. While IsatM2M  series terminals are appropriate for monitoring purposes (82 bit is enough to transfer the information about coordinates, speed and movement direction), than, for example, for the meteorology applications  IsatDataPro or BGAN M2M series equipment will be required. BGAN M2M series equipment is used in applications for oil and gas industry, banking sector for checkout points attendance or ecological control applications. The outstanding feature of the Inmarsat equipment is the availability of integrated controllers. Any M2M system, apart from communication link provision, must ensure some operation logic (reading and processing of information from controlling sensors, processing of information from GPS/GLONASS-receiver, control of special geofences (geofencing) and geofence comparison with actual coordinates, control of motion sensor, etc.) These functions must be implemented by a controller. Therefore, the Inmarsat equipment simplifies the process of project implementation.

Practice of using Inmarsat M2M equipment

The works implemented by “Morsvyazsputnik” specialists within the framework of WSSIS (World’s Water Situation Single Information System).

It is well known that in the days of the USSR, soviet trade vessels transferred data on the current weather 3-4 times a day. The data was sent to GosHydroMet of USSR from throughout the Ocean that let estimate the current situation and provide authentic weather forecast. This system was a part of the worldwide system of meteorological information exchange that was received by the offshore vessels.  Unfortnately, today RosHydroMet is just the recipient of the information from foreign vessels, and only a small part of Russian flag vessels continue transferring the observed meteorological data. The reason was that the meteorological data were taken off manually on-board, and some time were needed for the preparation of the information transfer by communication channels. Because of reduction of the staff of trade vessels, there was no longer the staff able to do this job. However, the modern vessel automatic weather stations allow taking all the parameters automatically. Only one step left – to arrange automatic meteorological information processing and transferring, which was done with the use of IDP 60 equipment. See the layout of the test vessel automatic aggregate on the fig. 3.



Automatic vessel weather station AirMar PB-200 generates NMEA application with meteorological data every 5 seconds, IDP 690 terminal integrated controller reads the meteorological data and automatically transfers the data received to the recipient once in hour. For meteorological information transfer only 600 bit is needed.

At that, the set of the transferred data contains the following information:

  • radio sign of the vessel;
  • code of the vessel according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO);
  • year, month, day, hour, minute, second of meteorological data reading;
  • location latitude, longitude and altitude of meteorological data reading;
  • true course over the ground [degrees];
  • object speed over the ground [km/h];
  • valid coordinate indicator;
  • quantity of GPS satellites in the solution;
  • atmospheric pressure in bars [mbar];
  • atmospheric temperature [C°];
  • true wind direction [degrees];
  • true wind speed [m/s];
  • direction [degrees] and speed [m/s] of wind relevant to nord;
  • apparent wind direction [degrees] and speed [m/s];
  • vessel turning rate [minute/degrees];
  • pitching and rolling angle [degrees].

Iridium system may offer two SBD services modem variants for M2M applications:

  • Modems 9602 and 9603 (transmission 340 bytes, reception 240 bytes);
  • Modem 9523 (transmission 1960 bytes, reception 1890 bytes).

sbd    iridium sbd

As distinct from the Inmarsat equipment, the Iridium modems principally need supplementation with a controller. They can’t be used on their own.  However, Iridum has one distinct advantage – energy consumption. Using Iridium equipment, it becomes possible to construct a compact autonomous equipment with its own battery and service lifetime from half of a year to 3 years. “Morsvyazsputnik” has tested M2M equipment operating on the base of modem 9602 for river beacons monitoring. At that, the beacon location control, photo booth chains and light-emitting-diode equipment operation as well as beacon’s battery charge, were studied. The test indicated that monitoring on the base of the Iridium modems may be executed during the whole navigation period without M2M equipment battery supply change.          

Both in Inmarsat and Iridium systems network, operating logic is built under one and the same principle. M2M equipment generates a report, the report gets to an operator’s server through the space segment, M2M Service Provider collects the message for its subsequent processing on his server or on the Customer’s server. The essential nodes during M2M project execution with the use of mobile satellite communication channels are the following:

  • choice of equipment (it is desirable to have GSM/satellite link double regime);
  • choice of controller with appropriate software (for Iridium);
  • M2M equipment energy audit;
  •  reliable supplier of mobile satellite communication services;
  • M2M message processing center software.

Future development

There are very good development prospects for the M2M technologies with the use of mobile satellite communication channels on the territory of our county. But one shall take into account that M2M solutions require careful preliminary investigation and consultations with the specialists. In fact, the developer has a kind of construction set, out of which elements he can arrange appropriate or not very appropriate solution for the end customer.  The result will depend on the engineers’ proficiency and clearly assigned purposes by the customer.

"Morsviazsputnik" offers its customers the following portfolio of M2M services:

You can find current rates for communication services here.