Vodafone and Inmarsat team up on Internet of Things

Billy Bambrough
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Driversless cars are expected to be one popular use for the so-called Internet of Things
Driverless cars are expected to be one popular use for the so-called Internet of Things (Source: Getty)

Telecoms firm Vodafone and satellite operator Inmarsat have teamed up to connect things in remote parts of the world to the internet.

Vodafone has signed a roaming agreement with Inmarsat that allows it to offer customers access to Inmarsat’s satellite network to transmit data.

It's expected to be used for things like monitoring an oil rig at sea or a driverless car on the road where internet access via traditional networks is not available.

“On a driverless car, or a truck or an oil rig, an ultra-fast reliable and low-cost network is paramount,” Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat chief executive told the Financial Times.

Read more: What the Internet of Things means for marketers

The so-called Internet of Things – which connects formerly offline electronic equipment to the internet – has failed to capture the hearts of consumers but it's expected to become increasingly common among corporates for use in supply chain management and automation.

The deal does not involve any financial commitment from either Vodafone or Inmarsat but its expected the tie-up will be a corner stone of Vodafone's strategy to grow its customers.

The satellite industry has struggled in recent years as the predicted rise in demand for its services has failed to materialise due to the astronomical costs associated with launching and maintaining networks.

An increase in competition from lower cost, higher-capacity systems has also weighed on industry incumbents.

Read more: Engineers urge the UK government to speed up in a space race

It's hoped that the growing interest from telecoms firms in 5G networks could be a driver for the industry and Vodafone has recently signalled its interested in developing next generation connectivity.

Inmarsat recently got a boost from a $650m (£534m) placing of convertible debt, $50m more than the original deal size after “considerable demand” for the bonds, though the company's share price has slumped to almost half of its 2015 highs.

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