Internet-of-things startup Skylo seeks to connect millions of machines, sensors and devices with data sent over geostationary communications satellites. Credit: Skylo

SAN FRANCISCO – Skylo, a Silicon Valley satellite communications startup, announced a partnership Aug. 18 with Sony Semiconductor Israel, a company formerly known as Altair Semiconductor.

Through the partnership, Sony Semiconductor Israel and Skylo plan to develop and deploy cellular chipsets that can connect over geostationary satellites networks by taking advantage of narrowband internet-of-things (IoT) protocols.

“This partnership ensures our ability to continue to quickly scale the manufacturing and deployment of connector Skylo Hubs to our customers around the world,” Andrew Nuttall, Skylo’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said in a statement. Affordable, ubiquitous connectivity will be particularly important to industries with assets spread around the globe including marine vessels, vehicles and industrial equipment, he added.

Skylo emerged from stealth mode in January with $116 million in the bank and plans to offer an inexpensive way for devices, machines and sensors to transmit data over existing geostationary communications satellites. Skylo focuses on connecting devices like fishing boats and tractors that often operate outside the range of cellular networks. Skylo investors include SoftBank, Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Innovation Endeavors, a firm led by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Altair, which was acquired in 2016 by Sony Corp., announced in July 2020 it was changing its name to Sony Semiconductor Israel.

With the new partnership, Skylo and Sony will be the first firms to deploy cellular IoT chipsets based on narrowband IoT protocols established to work with 5G networks, according to the Aug. 18 news release.

Moshe Noah, Skylo vice president of engineering, said in a statement that the new partnership would support efforts to develop standards for the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a global effort to update communications protocols.

Skylo plans to begin offering communications services later this year in South Asia. Customers gain access to Skylo services through the Skylo Hub, a portable satellite communications antenna terminal.

Dima Feldman, Sony Semiconductor Israel vice president of product management and marketing, said in a statement, “We’re impressed by the innovative way that Skylo has extended our chip functionality over satellites to expand the connectivity reach to the most remote locations and we look forward to helping Skylo bring billions of sensors online for the first time.”

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...