Swarm's new satellite network is designed to provide a low-bandwidth, low-power connection to Internet of Things devices around the world. The company just announced how much its technology will actually cost. A $ 119 board is being sold to be incorporated into new products. Your security camera won't get it, but it will be invaluable for a smart beehive deep in an orchard or a wildlife surveillance platform deep in a national forest.
The swarm board is about the size of a chewing gum pack and provides a constant connection with the data rate and power demand that IoT devices require – ie low. After all, things like air pressure gauges, seismic activity detectors, and vehicles operating far from cellular coverage only send and receive a handful of bytes every now and then.
The connection of these devices to old geosynchronous satellite networks is of course possible, but it is also expensive, bulky and power hungry. Swarm would like to offer a similar service for a tenth the price. The company's basic data plan is up to 750 packages per month, with each package being up to 200 bytes. Not much, but more than enough for many uses.
In growing industries such as precision agriculture and intelligent maritime and logistics work, it is important to keep costs low and connectivity high. For many companies that may otherwise go blind or pay quite a bit more for a traditional satellite connection, being able to check in five dollars a month from anywhere in the world is a breeze.
It's not just the swarm chip that is small – so are the satellites themselves. So much so that they drew unwanted attention from the FCC, who feared the company's "SpaceBEEs" were too small to be effective off the ground from being pursued. Fortunately, Swarm cleared that all up last year and sent in his first dozen earlier this month.
The company currently has 12 of 150 planned satellite constellations in orbit. Therefore, it is still proving its network with early access and pilot projects. This includes covered areas and traffic boundaries, but the company expects the entire set to be in orbit by mid-2021.