Fresh out of stealth, Skylo promises a cheaper way to bring the internet to even the most remote areas — and just landed a $103 million Series B, led by telecom SoftBank group, to do just that.
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Other investors include DCM, Innovation Endeavors and Moore Strategic Ventures. Skylo’s total funding to date is $116 million, and it’s based across three different cities: San Mateo, California; Bangalore, India; and Tel Aviv, Israel.
Founded in 2017, Skylo’s goal is to leverage already existing satellites in space and bring connectivity to other spaces.
“Skylo envisions a world where connectivity for machines, sensors and devices is as ubiquitous as the sky,” said Skylo co-founder and CEO Parthsarathi “Parth” Trivedi, in a press release announcing the funding.
Per the release, Skylo has three main products: the Skylo hub, an 8’’ by 8’’ piece of hardware that works like a hotspot for customers that need connectivity; Skylo network, a “proprietary method of efficiently transmitting data”; and Skylo data platform, which helps customers visualize and analyze the data that flows through connected devices.
And when it comes to use cases, Skylo claims its product can help a variety of customers ranging from agriculture to shipping and logistics. A farmer, for example, could use Skylo’s product to draw real-time data about growing conditions such as soil pH or moisture levels. The same farmer could then hop in the tractor and use the same network to engage tractor sharing.
“Farmers and equipment owners can connect to and share heavy-duty machinery, which enables hundreds of millions of farmers to increase their productivity because of affordable access to farming equipment,” the release said. Another use case includes using Skylo on railway systems to get more exact maintenance alerts or flag an abnormal vibration in the track to prevent accidents.
Taking into account that the internet rules our lives, Skylo definitely has a fair share of competitors. Yet the company claims its pull is that it costs “95% less than existing satellite solutions, with connectivity starting at just $1 per user and hardware that costs less than $100.” For example, Astranis wants to put mini-refrigerator-sized satellites in space for similar reasons: better, broader internet. It costs tens of billions of dollars to produce — a price-tag that Skylo can skip because it’s using already existent satellites in space.
In an interview with SpaceNews.com, Trivedi said Skylo chose to send data through satellites, because “waiting an hour or two for communications wasn’t a viable solution for more than half of the applications that we were considering … for fleets of trucks or fleets of fishing vessels, customers needed connectivity every five to 10 minutes.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias