How to create an efficient network between the IoT and satellites? – Carenet In3 Test UOC

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Challenges of using satellite constellations for the IoT

Using satellites as part of the IoT network presents problems of its own. Some of these relate to the development of the industry (we are unlikely to be able to deploy mega satellite constellations to ensure uninterrupted coverage in the short term due to their low cost effectiveness when used for the IoT), and others relate to limitations linked to the way the technology itself has been designed, such as the increased likelihood of interference between communications, limitations regarding IoT devices’ use of power, and the difficulties involved in synchronizing these devices’ duty cycles with satellite communication availability intervals.

“IoT devices tend to be battery-powered and have regular sleep and wake-up duty-cycling intervals to save energy. These regular duty cycles are commonly used in terrestrial communications, where they are even standardized. However, as LEO constellations don’t provide uninterrupted coverage, what you end up with is short, irregular communication windows,” said Guillem Boquet. “We therefore need to develop more advanced synchronization strategies to ensure reliable communication and access to the connection opportunities provided by the satellite network.”


How to improve synchronization between satellites and IoT devices

The power-saving modes in IoT devices, based on the energy conservation times during which they can extend their battery life by going into sleep mode, rely on regular periods. But this is not how satellite constellations work. To synchronize the needs of connected objects with LEO satellite access times, you must be able to predict where each satellite is going to be and when the communication window will open.

“Our proposed solution is to synchronize the IoT application’s transmission needs and the network’s communication needs on the one hand with the satellite’s availability times on the other. This synchronization is based on the ability to predict these times by using a model of the satellite’s orbital path, starting from a known initial point,” said Guillem Boquet. “However, making predictions has a cost in terms of energy, as it requires regular calculation operations to be made and the predictive model to be updated when it deviates from the actual situation.”

The solution developed by the researchers at the UOC was tested in a real communication situation with the Enxaneta nanosatellite, the first satellite deployed by the Government of Catalonia under its NewSpace project. The results were promising: the satellite access ratio improved by up to 99%, ensuring long-term access to the network while minimizing the device’s energy consumption.

“The next steps are to complete the cost-benefit analysis of implementing the solution, taking into account various applications, service networks, types of satellite constellation, IoT devices and communication technologies; and then to propose and put in place energy-saving modes that automatically adapt to communication needs and the changing conditions of non-terrestrial networks,” said the researcher. les condicions variables de les xarxes no terrestres”, conclou l’investigador.

Related article

Source: Boquet, G.; Martinez, B.; Adelantado, F.; Pages, J.; Ruiz-de-Azua, J.A. and Vilajosana, X. Low-Power Satellite Access Time Estimation for Internet of Things Services Over Nonterrestrial Networks. In: IEEE Internet of Things Journal. Vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 3206-3216, 15 Jan 2024, doi: 10.1109/JIOT.2023.3298017.


This research supports UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.


The UOC’s research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health.

Over 500 researchers and more than 50 research groups work in the UOC’s seven faculties, its eLearning Research programme and its two research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and the eHealth Center (eHC).

The university also develops online learning innovations at its eLearning Innovation Center (eLinC), as well as UOC community entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer via the Hubbik platform.

Open knowledge and the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development serve as strategic pillars for the UOC’s teaching, research and innovation. More information:

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