First commercial Dutch satellite operator makes a firm footprint in Space

Two and a half years ago, the founders of Hiber wondered why only 10 per cent of the globe was covered with mobile networks, limiting the availability of the IoT (Internet of Things).

Hiber’s aim: ‘to reach the busiest city, darkest jungle, widest ocean, highest mountain…’ Image credit: Hiber

So, the founders of this enterprising start-up got in touch with the European Space Agency and set about changing this. The resulting collaboration was also backed by the Dutch government and saw the development of Hiber’s own constellation/satellite network. It also led to the creation of two nano-satellites or Cubesats (10cm cubes) for delivering global connectivity – known as ‘Hiberband’. (The company is called ‘Hiber’ because these terminals hibernate most of the time, turning on only when a Hiber satellite passes overhead to relay positioning and status updates.)

HiberOne and HiberTwo were launched at the end of 2018 – and Hiber announced this week that the satellites are now commercially operational – bringing IoT connectivity to the vast majority of the world currently lacking a network.

First to offer global IoT connectivity as a commercial service

Evaluation of the test nano-satellites took place in ESA’s anechoic chamber at the Agency’s technical centre in the Netherlands, which removes ambient noise. Image credit: ESA

Traditional satellites that provide wider coverage are expensive and power-hungry, which has meant many IoT applications and services have not been economically viable. Hiber’s service uses a process that is claimed to be significantly cheaper than existing global solutions. Many potential IoT projects fail due to lack of connectivity and Hiber estimates there is a potential €7 Bn opportunity for growth.

“It is beyond exciting to be the first company bringing full IoT-connectivity to the globe — as well as being the first ever commercial Dutch Satellite operator,” said Laurens Groenendijk, Co-Founder of Hiber. “The commercial applications for Hiberband in the IoT-industry are limitless. We look forward to powering diverse projects, from tracking cattle to tackling climate change and more effectively growing crops.”

Hiber started in November 2016 with support from ESA’s ARTES Competitiveness and Growth programme and progressed to its recent launches in record time. Frank Zeppenfeldt, from ESA’s telecommunications Future Projects Division, says: “Hiber is now a company with 35 people. This activity demonstrates the importance of a lightweight mechanism to attract newcomers and to explore and support their proposed initiatives. Hiber has received the title of ‘Commercial Startup Launch of 2018’ from Amazon Web Services; but more importantly has attracted a good amount of private capital.”

Coen Janssen, Co-founder/Director of Business Analytics at Hiber says, “The Hiber team has made a mark in history by getting this new technology developed, tested in space and up and running within 2.5 years of conception of the company, with people that have flocked to us from pretty much all over the world: 35 individuals with 20 different nationalities.”

He continues: “As a team we are also part of something bigger and without the support of ESA we would never even have embarked on this journey. We are well on our way to set the global standard for Low Power Global IoT connectivity and are on to something truly disruptive for many industries and people all over the planet.”

Published 28 March 2019
Last updated at 21 August 2019 - 14:09