WASHINGTON — Australia’s largest satellite operator Optus said Aug. 19 it will jointly pursue business connecting sensors and smart devices with Myriota, a startup planning a constellation of around 50 smallsats in low Earth orbit. 

Optus, which operates five geostationary satellites covering Australia, said the partnership will combine its “national networks and digital enablement capabilities” with technology Myriota is developing for low-cost connectivity to millions of devices.  

Myriota is an Adelaide, Australia-based startup formed in 2015 to commercialize technology from the University of South Australia. The company raised $15 million in 2018 through a Series A round in which Optus’ Singapore-based parent company Singtel participated. 

The partnership follows an earlier partnership Optus formed with Telesat Canada to join the company’s constellation test campaign. Telesat is preparing to deploy a constellation of 298 high-throughput LEO broadband satellites designed to place megabits and even gigabits of capacity into single locations. Myriota is targeting the opposite end of the connectivity market, offering plans ranging from 20 to 1,000 kilobytes of data a month. 

“Previously, satellite connectivity has not been available or affordable for businesses with remote assets, but nanosatellites are providing a more attainable and affordable solution,” Alex Grant, Myriota’s CEO and co-founder, said in a news release. “By combining Optus’ national networks with our nanosatellite capability, we are able to offer a truly holistic IoT solution and help solve connectivity issues being faced in regional Australia.”

Myriota has been using a payload on Brio, a smallsat built by Fairfax, Virginia-based SpaceQuest, to test signal processing, firmware upgradability and other capabilities ahead of launching its first satellites. Brio launched in December 2018 on Spaceflight Inc.’s SSO-A SpaceX Falcon 9 mission. 

In February, Myriota selected Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems of Torino, Italy, to “develop and launch multiple satellites in 2019.” While awaiting its own spacecraft, Myriota is using exactEarth payloads to connect early customers in Australia. 

Myriota told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission that it hopes to have three satellites in orbit by the end of this year. The company plans to operate satellites, designed for three-to-five year missions, between 400 and 600 kilometers. First-generation spacecraft won’t have propulsion, Myriota said, but the next ones will, and all will deorbit under 25 years from deployment regardless. 

Caleb Henry is a former SpaceNews staff writer covering satellites, telecom and launch. He previously worked for Via Satellite and NewSpace Global.He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science along with a minor in astronomy from...