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Orbcomm Targets IoT Growth With Next-Generation Service OGx

By Rachel Jewett | June 17, 2024

    Orbcomm releases its next-generation IoT service OGx. Photo: Orbcomm

    Orbcomm is targeting a new phase of IoT growth, announcing its next-generation IoT service, OGx. It is designed to reduce IoT power consumption so customers can operate with lower costs and higher capabilities. 

    OGx is the company’s new IoT service, an upgrade from IsatData Pro (IDP), which has been in service for more than a decade. Orbcomm executive David Roscoe, executive vice president of Satcom and Products spoke with Via Satellite ahead of the June 18 announcement.  

    OGx was designed to be much more power efficient than IDP, enhancing low data, low power applications. It also allows for increased message sizes — instead of 10 to 100 kilobytes of data, it can transmit messages up to 1 megabyte of data. OGx can deliver messages 40 times faster than IDP, Roscoe said. 

    “We’re trying to drive cost out of the devices and cost out of the operations of a solution. OGx is purpose-built for satellite IoT applications, industrial applications, and it’s optimized to utilize L-band satellites,” he said. 

    Like IsatData Pro, OGx operates on the Inmarsat L-band network, now owned by Viasat. OGx is currently deployed worldwide on the Inmarsat I-4 and the new I-6 F1 satellite. The upgrade was made possible by a network protocol evolution compared to IDP to use satellite capacity more efficiently. 

    Roscoe said this upgrade comes while Orbcomm is seeing more demand for satellite IoT solutions. He highlighted opportunities for use cases and markets like weather stations for agriculture, global tracking for transportation and logistics, pipeline monitoring for oil and gas, and as well as applications for maritime and smart power grids. 

    He mentioned the agricultural sector in Brazil as a particular key market, because Brazil is such a major agricultural producer and the country does not have much rural cellular infrastructure.  

    Orbcomm has been in beta trials with customers for four to six months and has received positive response from customers, Roscoe says. 

    AMCi Wireless is one longtime IDP customer that offers remote water monitoring. By participating in the OGx beta program, AMCi Wireless commented in a release that the company saw lower power usage. It expects the OGx will help streamline facility processes and procedures for automation, productivity and asset utilization.

    Existing Orbcomm satellite IoT devices in the field today are forward-compatible to OGx. This allows customers to reprogram or upgrade the software on the terminals and operate on the OGx network. Orbcomm is also planning to roll out new devices for the network in the near future. 

    “We wanted to ensure that our current customer base who are on IDP and want to capitalize on the capabilities of OGx did not have to buy and install new hardware,” Roscoe said. 

    The company also designed flexible data plans to support changing “spiky” data needs, in which customers send low amounts of data throughout a month, but may need to send large bursts of data less often. 

    “Our objective is to provide a solution that’s not just technically efficient and delivers messages very quickly and effectively — but also our price plans [are designed] to be very flexible to support those applications so the end user doesn’t get caught in a scenario where they have to pay overages,” he said. 

    Orbcomm also incorporates dual-mode cellular connectivity into its IoT solutions through partnerships with tier-1 cellular providers. 

    “We’re implementing a dual-mode solution with cellular because that gives you the best of both worlds in terms of reliability and redundancy. When you have cellular coverage you also get the best cost in terms of routing data. We use both and we’re seeing higher adoption of satellite,” Roscoe says.