While working in several large satellite communications companies after graduate school in Europe, it became apparent to Omar Qaise that the market for 5G satellite communication networks needed to completely change before mass adoption could become a reality — especially considering more than 75% of Earth’s landmass, oceans, and seas lacks cellular coverage.
It was too expensive for businesses to use traditional legacy satellites to connect sensors to millions of devices that would enable smart homes, cities and industries — especially in remote and rural areas where coverage needed to extend beyond cell towers. Plus, for 5G Internet of Things (IoT) to work at a global scale, low latencies of a few milliseconds were a must.
In addition to that, mobility was a challenge as many users are dependent on cellular communication which was lost once they moved outside of urban areas; the only available solutions were based on expensive legacy satellite services and bulky hardware.
In late 2016, the ambitious and entrepreneurial-minded Qaise started OQ Technology to address this challenge head-on.
“There’s an enormous range of industries that will benefit from the ability to manage and track assets in remote areas, such as oil and gas, maritime, transportation and logistics, not to mention telcos and mobile operators, if we can make the same cellular chips connect seamlessly to both mobile and satellites networks. This is the great breakthrough that we’ve achieved over the past four years by developing both the IP and software for the cell tower to fly onboard the satellite payload and the firmware embedded in terrestrial chips,” said Qaise, CEO and founder of the multinational company.
A key advantage of this approach is using satellite compatible frequencies and technologies that are used on mobile networks. This means no radio or silicon change on existing 5G IoT devices is needed to make them work anywhere on Earth with OQ Technology’s satellite constellation.
Today, OQ Technology is the world’s first global satellite 5G IoT operator providing uninterrupted cellular coverage for assets and machines anywhere on the planet. The company enables mobile operators to extend massive 5G IoT and machine communication beyond cities and cell towers, by offering global coverage using its growing nano-satellite constellation and patented technology both on the satellite payload and user 5G chips. Its 5G IoT “Network as a Service” can be used by mobile operators to serve their end customers, or by massive M2M (Machine-to-Machine) communication users. Qaise added, “From consumer to industrial applications, 5G is going to fundamentally change our lives.”
After successfully completing an in-orbit technology demonstration mission in 2019, OQ Technology’s TIGER-2 mission will kickstart its commercial service, providing global 5G IoT connectivity to customers using a 6U high-power nanosatellite and to secure strategic frequencies. The spacecraft will carry two telecom payloads: The primary payload will provide commercial satellite-based IoT and M2M services using low frequencies, while the secondary payload will test the feasibility of using high frequencies for 5G radio links.
Qaise confirmed there are large mobile and oil and gas companies awaiting the launch of the satellite to start the service.
OQ Technology signed an agreement with Spaceflight Inc. to procure launch capacity and provide associated launch and integration services for its first commercial mission, TIGER-2. The agreement also included the launch of OQ Technology’s six satellites, Batch-1, from its planned constellation of more than 60 spacecraft in 2022, with the option for the launch of Batch-2. TIGER-2 is slated to launch on SXRS-5, SpaceX’s Transporter-2 rideshare mission aboard a Falcon 9 no earlier than June 2021.
“What stood out to us about Spaceflight — from our very first interactions — was the flexibility they provided,” Qaise said. “They offered multiple launch solutions including rideshare and dedicated launches, multiple launch opportunities and vehicle options. The variety of these options ensures we can launch our constellation quickly to meet the growing market demand of cellular IoT globally.”
As a nimble and determined startup, it was also important that OQ Technology work with a company that appreciated what that meant. “The Spaceflight team definitely had the same entrepreneurial, problem-solving approach. We knew almost immediately that having Spaceflight as a long-term partner in providing launch expertise was critical to our success.”
Looking forward, OQ Technology has big plans. “Putting revenue in the books from commercial customers on these inaugural launches opens up many new conversations and opportunities. We’re very much looking forward to future launches on Spaceflight’s propulsive Sherpa OTV programs as they can take our nanosatellites to unique orbits for a fraction of the cost of other solutions. Partnering with Spaceflight for launch services is exactly what we need to disrupt the market.”
About OQ Technology: OQ Technology is the world’s first satellite 5G IoT operator that provides global cellular Internet-of-Things and Machine-to-Machine communication solutions through satellites. The company has successfully implemented and demonstrated Narrowband IoT connectivity over Low Earth Orbit satellites and is deploying a global constellation to provide 5G IoT telecommunication services for mobile operators and customers in industries such as energy, mining, logistics, maritime, agriculture, and defense. The company’s patented technology that can be easily embedded in existing 5G chips allows billions of users around the world to have ubiquitous IoT connectivity anywhere and using both terrestrial and satellite networks.